Bachelor Games Movie Review
Written by Becky Roberts
Released by Strike Films
Directed by Edward McGown
Written by Chris Hill and Sam Michell
2016, 86 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
VOD release on 8th July 2016
Charlie Bewley as Leon
Jack Doolan as Terence
Jack Gordon as Henry
Mike Noble as Roy
Obi Abili as Max
Name a good horror film that's centred on a stag do. Got one? No? Me neither. But how about a terrible one? Easy: Stag Night, Hostel: Part III, Cabin Fever III: Patient Zero and Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned (yes, really). The list goes on (but I won’t). So can it include Edward MGown's debut Brit horror Bachelor Games (formerly titled Rules of the Game)? In short, no – even if going by the opening fifteen minutes, that looks to be exactly where it’s heading.
On a hiking trip in Argentina, five guys bask in sex, drugs and... tango. The first night turns sour when egos clash and worried looks are traded over the local legend of 'The Hunter', someone who hunts people with darkness in their hearts. Like the egotistical, obnoxious prats on the stag? By this point you can see what's coming, and initially the plot seems headed in that one sure-fire direction: the group, after coming across the remains of a ritual, split, ergo cue preparation to watch them get picked off one by one quicker than you can say 'tequila sunrise'.
But all is not as it seems, and as secrets are revealed and pranks go awry (and we aren’t talking mankini dress-ups), the narrative soon winds off course, turning and twisting into much more than a brainless horror. Relationships are tested, the hunter and hunted confused, and blood spills from arrowheads and splatters from leg wounds. Each death is a well-crafted snapshot of suspense – real stalker-savvy stuff – and nicely framed around entertaining mood-lightening banter, as Bachelor Games, to its credit, relentlessly pulls you across the safety line and back.
If anything, we’d skew the balance to make the darker moments slightly less ephemeral, but the reciprocal tone works, and anyway, Jack Gordon as husband-to-be Henry and Charlie Bewley as his best man do a good job as the film’s emotional glue to pique your interest in the lighter moments.
Sadly, while the promising, heightened middle is the pay-off for the wonted (albeit tolerable) scene setting, it succumbs to a neither-here-nor-there ending that tries hard to tie things up with A Message For All of Humanity, but ultimately falls flat.
Bachelor Games will hardly ever be a rite of passage for any horror buff, though it is proof that the ‘stag do horror’ hasn’t had its last drink yet.