19 August 2013

Drinking Games 2012 - REVIEW

Oh the joys of college. That time when you're finally free of the tyranny of your parents and get to make your own choices without the fear of punishment. Some use college for what it's supposed to be, a learning experience that propels you toward an eventual career. Others use it for what they THINK it's supposed to be, one non-stop Animal House type party where inhibitions are lowered and sex and nudity are fueled by copious amounts of drugs and alcohol.

Drinking Games is centered around two college roommates, Richard (Blake Merriman) and Shawn (Nick Vergara), who are at odds over what to do on a Friday night during "Snowmageddon". Most of the dorm is empty as it's the end of the fall semester and most of the students have left but for a few miscreants that who only want to party it up and get wasted. Richard however, just wants to finish his term paper when Shawn decides to throw a last minute party in their room. Enter the ever so creepy Noopie (Rob Bradford) with a crotch full of cocaine and a pension for bad behavior. Once the drugs and alcohol are flowing, Shawn reluctantly kicks Richard to the curb in hopes of finally bedding his love interest Erin (Katy Wright-Mead) but things go south when he leaves her alone with Noopie and her BFF Kennedy (Adriana DeGirolami). With every drink Noopie becomes more and more unstable and when the lines between fun and sadism begin to blur, no one will be safe from his manipulation.

Before I go any further, let me make it clear that this is NOT a horror film. It's billed as a thriller but I'm not real sure it's even that. In my opinion it had more to do with college aged angst and peer pressure than tension and suspense. Drama I think would be a more suitable genre for this one. Most of the criticism I have about Drinking Games is that I'm not convinced the film makers knew what kind of film they wanted to make and it showed in the finished product. It's kind of like two or three different genres crashing into each other but one never entirely wins out. So I was a little confused as to who the target audience was.

For a film filled with mostly fresh faces, the acting was surprisingly good. The main actors, Merriman, Vergara and Bradford do very well at carrying the film and even the minor actors show some great promise.
The dialog, especially at the beginning of the film kinda reminds me of the late 80's, early 90's dramas packed with "woe is me" teenagers whose situations eventually work themselves out for better or worse.
Director Ryan Gielen, while clearly talented, missed some opportunities here to carry the film over into thriller territory. Everything from the camera work to the lighting to the character situations just screamed drama to me. The film no doubt will find it's audience. It's very well done and very well put together but it's slow pace and lack of action will likely turn people away. For fans of the horror genre, I wouldn't recommend it BUT if you have a kid who's about to go off to college, it might make an excellent PSA about what kinds of people to avoid.

Drinking Games (Official Trailer, HD) from Ryan Gielen (Believe, LTD) on Vimeo.

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