Immigration Game Movie Review
Written by Hamzah Sarwar
Released by Roundhouse Film
Directed by Krystof Zlatnik
Written by Mark Waccholz and Krystof Zlatnik
2017, 96 minutes, Not yet rated
SciFi London premiere on 3rd May 2017
Mathis Landwehr as Joe
Denise Ankel as Faizah
Katharina Sporrer as Karin
Simson Bubbel as Alex
Immigration Game takes a bold leap into a dystopian world where European countries have locked their doors shut to refugees and swallowed the key. Germany remains the last hope for those desperate for a better life. Seeking salvation in the country is a path to happiness littered with the scattered remnants of those who have fallen in pursuit of the pearly gates. A game has been invented where the refugees become the 'runners' and must survive being gunned down by the 'hunters'. These hunters are ordinary German citizens who are free to kill the refugees without consequence. Some act out of a false sense of civic duty while for others, bloodlust runs rampant. It's the ultimate test of resolve. Just how badly do these poor souls seek salvation?
Krystof Zlatnik and Mark Waccholz have crafted a high concept thriller that imagines a world drunk on Trump. It's a bruising and literal allegory of the fractious world we live in today. This low-budget work is clearly inspired by the quagmire of political and social turbulence we've experienced over the past 18 months. It proudly wears its cinematic influences like badges of honour. Immigration Game shares much with James DeMonaco's The Purge, the game show backdrop with The Hunger Games and is socially charged with piercing relevance like Jordan Peele's phenomenon Get Out.
Amidst the chaos we follow Joe, a loved up, aspiring middle manager with a passion for martial arts. On a fateful encounter, he comes to the aid of a wounded runner, a refugee being hunted by a pack of bloodthirsty hunters. As Joe inadvertently kills a hunter in self-defence, he is forced into a choice: a life sentence in prison or participation in the game as a refugee.
It's a decision drenched in irony as a citizen acting with good intentions becomes an outlaw of society. Hunted by the masses, Joe sets foot in the life of the outsider. It's a table turner of immense proportions and a classic shoe on the other foot scenario. It's here where Immigration Game stumbles. Despite some intense no-holds-barred fight scenes, it quickly rears and becomes a run of the mill crime caper with cringe-worthy romantic dialogue. Jo is fortunate to find partnership during the hunt and relies on fellow strugglers he finds along the way. Luckily enough, he is primed for the task and takes the intense physical warfare like a duck to water as he’s pursued tirelessly by gangs of nationalists, punks and even a double crossing doctor.
The set-up is heavily geared to toy and dance with those pre-conceived socio-political beliefs. Zlatnik’s finest achievement is to chart the fundamental transformation of his protagonist. A man with morality intact is exposed to a dog-eat-dog scenario and soon unleashes his own animalistic urge to protect and fight. It culminates in a bone-chilling finale that completes the journey. While Immigration Game is low budget and by no means the finished article, this is high concept filmmaking that is a scary foreshadowing of what might be to come.