Directed by Richard Gray
Distributed by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment
You’d be surprised at how many times you can lay eyes upon a horror movie and predict each and every calculated move as it comes along… sort of like a deranged Groundhog Day, and in the case of Mine Games, I fell into the trap of cemented belief before being pulled to safety by a decent storyline.
The film, directed by Richard Gray (who will be facing a daunting task with the remake of Takashi Miike’s Audition), begins much like a metric ton of fright films before it: a carefree group of teenagers heading to visit a friend’s cabin WAY out in the woods, apparently oblivious to the danger that will envelop them all. Classifications of the typical horror movie victim are as follows: goodie two-shoes Lyla (Briana Evigan) and her strong, sensitive boyfriend, Mike (Joseph Cross), the resident schizo who may or may not be on his meds in the film; the clairvoyant Rose (Rebecca Da Costa); the annoying and overly inebriated Brit, Lex (Ravi Gavron); and a few other “toss-ins” as good measure – not saying that they weren’t imperative to the film’s construction and delivery, but ya gotta have some lunch meat in between all that white bread.
The opening is simple: While looking for their friend’s cabin, the customary near-miss accident in the road sparks some car trouble, so it’s on foot we go. After a short march, the group manages to find the cabin, which is oddly vacant; however, no worries as the group abstains from intelligent thought and parties on as the cabin’s generator sputters on through the night. Michael still might have not taken his meds (this will become an exhaustive theme) as he suffers from frightening visions that awake him frequently and without end, causing his girlfriend to ask, “Did you take your meds?” As one day of walking through the woods to kill boredom for our group turns into a inquisitive jaunt through an abandoned mine, the story takes a sharp left turn from mundane to inviting.
During the trek into the deserted man-trap, the crew of friends quickly discovers that this just isn’t your ordinary run-of-the-mill rundown catacomb – there are different messages scrawled on the walls of the mine that appear to be meant for them specifically. After more than a few horrific visions from the gang leave them petrified beyond rational thought (as defined by their actions), the lads and lasses turn their attention towards Michael because, you know… he’s off his meds and acting VERY strange.
The remainder of the movie is a nice departure from the usual “cabin in the woods” format, and many scenes have those visual scares that stick in your mind and fester nicely. While gore seems to be low-level fare, the performances are the force to be reckoned with: Briana Evigan does her monkey-lovin dad proud (“BJ and the Bear” and “My Two Dads” TV star Greg Evigan, for the unknowing few) in a role that has “hometown girl” written all over it. The only thing that dragged this movie down was, in fact, the pacing at the start, whether luring the audience into an unconscious posture before smacking them directly in the kisser with a mind-bending series of twists and turns, so be it. Well worth the time spent complaining about watching another periodic scare-show. Recommended.
7 out of 5