This review is part of the “now streaming” series of reviews. “A Devil’s Game” is available to watch on Amazon Prime, and Itunes on March 1.
Low Budget, High Altitude Style.
I don’t usually get to watch indie movies. And when I do, they are really only “indie” to an extent.
Usually, they are glorified hipster fodder films that have made the festival circuit, been picked up by a studio, and are getting a wide release.
A Devil’s Game, on the other hand, is truly an indie film. Shot on a poverty-level budget that would infuriate Bernie Sanders…
It’s impressive what the team behind the film was able to put together.
The film follows a gang of moderately successful drug dealers who enter into the world of sex trafficking to pay off their debts. A winding story of brutality and deceit follows.
It proves that if you have an engrossing plot, it will keep your audience hooked. And it kept me hooked until the very end. That isn’t to say it isn’t without it’s flaws. But let me start out with something that you’ll notice right off the bat…
Most of this film is straight up noir.
(and it’s freaking awesome!)
Probably 70-80% of the film features heavy shadows and terrific lighting.
It adds to the mood right from the get-go, and sets the tone for the rest of the film.
Above are a few examples of the deep shadow and varying colors in the film. Some may decry this level of darkness in a movie, but I actually think that it contributed greatly to A Devil’s Game. It adds to everything, from intensity to character.
Remember, many critics haaaaaaaaated the level of shadow that Francis Ford Coppola used in The Godfather.
But does Don care?
I found the shadow to be so appealing, and such a part of the heart of the film, that I found the few daytime scenes weird to watch. It seems counterintuitive, and it is. But it just didn’t feel right when it wasn’t set at night.
The best moments of the film definitely came in the dark. I started to get a little concerned, because as the film started building towards the climax, it slowly but surely started to use more daytime scenes.
Thankfully, though, the climax took place in the middle of the night, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
The pacing is nearly always assured, with the movie losing a bit of steam towards the end.
The first 2 acts of the film build a sense of dread and unease steadily, with each scene furthering the story.
The beginning of the third act, though, seems to take a step back as far as pacing. This might be because of the whole daytime-night-time thing, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit less of a sense of urgency at one point.
Thankfully, the film never lets this pacing set back affect it too heavily, as it picks it back up just in time and finishes with an electric climax.
The film is solidly cast.
Each actor in the film holds their own, with the standouts being Kasim Aslam, Jeremy Andorfer-Lopez, and Julie Van Lith.
(Each of those 3 is a badass, but I had no idea that Julie Van Lith is the female Liam Neeson?? That woman needs a franchise).
Andorfer-Lopez has a powerful onscreen presence, and Aslam is a sinister antagonist. All in all, a cast of (real) indie actors rises to the challenge.
Yes, you may notice some low-budget characteristics. But this is what filmmaking is all about. Real indie films need to be watched, and we need to support the people who make them. If you’re free, log on to Amazon and give A Devil’s Game a watch. It’s thrilling, stylish, and an all around good time.