Game Night follows a highly competitive couple, Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), that regularly hosts a game night with a group of friends. When Max's obnoxiously successful brother, Brooks (Kyle Chandler), gets involved in the games, a realism-based game scenario leads the crew through their local city on a kidnapping escapade that may just be more real than the game implied.
Game Night Review
Firstly, it's worth mentioning that this movie was initially reviewed by guest-critic and wight Amy Lee Curtis a while back, but I had to bring it back up after being able to watch it myself. While at Telluride Horror Show, there are moments when we are back at the hotel room writing up reviews. I tend to be one that has something on the TV in the background, usually a horror movie marathon. In this case, I caught Game Night right at the beginning of its runtime on a premium movie channel and decided it'd be a decent choice as a background film based on Curtis' review.
Both fortunately and unfortunately, I ended up being pulled into the film more than intended. It was so funny, I found myself pulled more and more from my writing, to the point that I decided to remove myself from the simultaneous activities, forgo sleep, and devote my attention to Game Night and then the writing. It takes a dang-good movie to distract me enough from extraneous activities that I have to make a decision, and Game Night deserves accolades from that.
Hardly horror at all, this movie pales in comparison in thrills and tension to movies like The Houses October Built or the similarly structured plot in Fear Inc. While they share similarities in their guessing games of what's real and what's method acting, the plots diverge significantly from there, as Game Night takes the route of hilarity of scares.
But it isn't completely devoid of thrills and boasts some hefty dark comedy throughout. A decent amount of violence blends well with the comedic timing of the cast and turns ordinarily suspenseful moments into slapstick gold.
Each actor/character has their stealing the show. Bateman with the chew toy as his wife performs surgery on his arm. McAdams awkward realization of a goon's death through a plane engine. Chandler's gritty/goofy kitchen fight with his would-be captors. The regular comedic bites of the endearingly bickering couple of Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury, as Morris takes jabs at his wife for sleeping with a celebrity when they were on a break during their premarital relationship. Jesse Plemons, featured above, is a hilariously awkward neighbor that is as funny as he is unsettling.
It's a breath of fresh air to have three on-screen relationships that feature dialogue throughout tackling details of their dynamics without ever getting too heavy, awkward or pretentious. Not a single argument or romantic moment pulls from the entangled mess of violence and comedy, as both of those vehicles hold the pace and forefront of the entertainment.
I don't always watch non-horror movies, but when I do, they're dark comedies that hit it perfect on all the right notes.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 5/10
Horror Quality: 3/10
Film Quality: 7/10