Complexx (Insomnifest 2008)
Reviewed by Melissa Bostaph
Starring Sander Foppele, Kirsten Walraad, Arno Hazenbroek, Yolanthe van Kasbergen, Negativ, Sebastian Labrie, Klarissa Patijn, Mischa van der Klei
Directed by Robert Arthur Jansen
Anyone who’s ever sat down in front of a glowing screen and held a controller in their hand knows how addictive gaming can be. If they deny the addiction, it’s because they totally sucks balls and can’t play a video game to save their lives or the digital life they so weakly attempt to control. Complexx is an independent film from the Netherlands that takes the addictive nature of gaming to the next level.
With the advances in graphics reaching higher heights on practically a minute by minute basis, gamers are always on the look out for the newest innovations. Hardcore gamers are willing to devote hours, days, weeks, and more to their passion. They have been known to camp out in front of stores for days just to get their hands on the next release or latest console. I’ve even seen reports of violence on the news when gamers go too far in the pursuit of attaining their holiest of grails in the gaming world, but how far are true gamers willing to go just to win a game?
In Complexx a group of professional gamers have been assembled by secretive text messages. None knows about any of the others until they all find themselves locked in an entertainment complex after hours. As the players involved meet up they form alliances in an attempt to emerge the winner, but soon they become aware that the game is more serious than they had ever imagined. The game is on, and it is one of pure survival. With impossible mazes, deadly pitfalls at each and every turn, and a genuine body count what started out as a simple contest of gamer wits has turned into a real life fight to the finish. All bets are off and the prize for the winner has just become their life!
Now stay with me on this one because I know how ludicrous and overdone that scenario sounds. I thought the same thing, believe me. That’s part of the reason I chose to review this addition to the Insomnifest 2008 line-up. I wanted to see just how bad another gamer based horror film could be. Let’s just say I was pleasantly surprised ... or should I say stunned ... at how good this movie actually was.
My only real complaint with the whole film was the actual reveal itself. Where the filmmakers could have just left the enigma’s disclosure to simplicity, they instead decide to “spoon-feed” the audience with an unnecessary montage-style retelling of how things went down. OK, we get it! You don’t have to spell out the entire film in a few frames of quick editing. What saved it from completely trashing the movie was the incorporation of a newly found detail, and when we finally start to piece together who’s who and what’s actually happening, the sting of the insult fades.
Looking at the film from a technical standpoint I’d have to say that it would be difficult to find another low budget feature that can match the amount of “bang for the buck” in Complexx. The direction is skillfully employed throughout the film. The effects team knew their limitations and never tried to bypass them. And seriously, if the casts in the independent films around here could have the slightest iota of the talent portrayed by the stellar cast of Complexx ... I wouldn’t, nearly as often as I do now, want to slice myself to bits and bleed out on my couch like some crazy emo-milf.
From the dreadfully unexpected opening sequence to the unraveled conclusion, you’d be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of people who will be able to solve this cinematic riddle before the ultimate reveal. Of course the answer will possibly still leave you scratching your head a bit as the final credits roll. You don’t want to trust anyone because you know you can’t, but at the same time you actually want them to win. The film plays out so utterly flawlessly that you can’t help but be impressed at the intricacies.
Complexx definitely lives up to the name.
4 1/2 out of 5
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