When a group of college students attempt to turn an ill-fated campus tradition into a viral-game, the players become trapped in an all too real battle for survival against a violent masked assailant.
So this is a story about a game called Chill. Pretty simple game, really. You draw lots from a box, and whoever gets “yes” is a killer, and everyone else must try to escape while trying to figure out who the killer is before they “die”. If you’ve ever been to a “dinner and a murder” party, pretty much the same principle without all the complicated storyline. However, 20 years ago, this game led to the unexplained murders of a group of college students. The town was traumatized by the killings and the game was banned.
But now here we are in a film class, where each student is making a short subject documentary for the class. Jared (Bradley Michael Arner) has chosen Chill as the subject of his project. Turns out that when all this happened back in the 1980s, the players were videotaping themselves as they played. Using this “found footage”, Jared presents his documentary to a visibly uncomfortable class.
The instructor for the class, Professor Walker (Rick Montgomery Jr), cuts him off. He allows a brief Q & A from the other students, then informs Jared that he is to never show that footage again. Some things need to be left in the past.
Jared, however, has other plans. He plans to bring back the game as a live webcast, and recruits his techie friend Kyle (Roger Conners) to help him accomplish the goal. The ultimate goal is to sell the idea as a computer game, and among the people invited to play the game for the webcast is big shot game designer Kent Black (D.J. Remark). There is also B-List celebrity Devon Montgomery (Jason Orr) and his personal assistant Maddison (Angelia DeLuca), a local reporter (Erinn Bakun), and fellow student Tyler (Michael Kafury) whose mother was one of the victims of the original game. Some of the other film students decide to play as well, including the token goth chick Raven (Kelly Rogers) who is filming the whole thing for her own webcast.
The people in town are not too hip on this idea. And they make their objections very clear. Jared is thrown out of a local bar by the highly offended bartender, and Kyle gets the run-around from the local librarian as he tries to research the history of the game. The owners of the original building where the game was first played deny Jared permission to film there,and the cleaning crew he hired refuses to work.
Despite all the obstacles, the webcast begins. Jared recruits some his friends with promises of the money they will make when he sells the game, and uses what influence he has to gain access to the building. Jared has hired a “psychic” (played with so much cheesy perfection by Wednesday Vinson) and a professional make up artist (film writer/director Meredith Holland in a cameo) to corpsify the “dead”. Jared spared no expense to create a spectacle for the on-line viewers, and they tune in in droves.
And so the game begins. Will history repeat itself? Is Chill really as dangerous as the Professor warns?
I know I’ve seen this sort of story done before, although the only title I can recall is the gawd-awful tv movie “Mazes and Monsters”, which taught us the evil of those satanic role playing games. And I’ve been pretty clear about my feelings on “found footage”films.
That being said, I kind of liked this film. We open with the VHS footage of the original game, but that’s about as far as that trope is used. We see the webcast footage mainly through Kyle and the people watching on-line. It’s a balanced mix of the found footage style and standard filmmaking, so the trope isn’t overused in this case.
The total budget for this film was 3000 dollars. The filmmakers spent that small amount wisely, using minimal gore. What you get is quite good for a low budget film. A lot of it is filmed in low light, which is very forgiving of effects that aren’t perfect.
The film has run time of almost two hours, and that seemed really long for this sort of film. The first half of the film seems like it goes on forever, but everything presented is necessary to the story. I couldn’t come up with any scenes they could have shaved down or cut entirely without ruining the flow or sacrificing exposition.
I want to note a brief appearance in the film by a character called Chi-Chi, played by Mexican-American burlesque performer Bella Sin. If you don’t know who she is, she is the founder of Le Femme Mystique Burlesque in Cleveland and is co-producer of the Ohio Burlesque Festival. She isn’t in the film very long, but worth every moment…especially when you see HER short film for the class. Yowza.
I should add that a sequel, Chill 2, is already in production and scheduled for release in 2016.
So on a scale of one to ten, ten being awesome, I’m giving this film 7 game tokens.