If Dangerous Game were an American movie from the 1980s, Steven Grives’s jerky cop turned psycho killer would undoubtedly be a Vietnam vet. Since Game is Australian, he’s not. Instead, with no explanation of mental trauma in his past given, he’s just from Ireland. That’s it. Nutso cop is an Irish immigrant to Australia. Some character development might have helped, but really… not much.
The movie’s strengths are Grives and director Stephen Hopkins. Grives makes the character occasionally sympathetic, which gives Game the illusion of a deeper level. Hopkins–except the climax–does a great job directing. The premise lends itself very well to a low budget movie–psycho hunts college students trapped in a department store. The setting gives Hopkins the opportunity to shoot in expansive enclosed spaces and he does these wonderful crane shots, teasing at how great he does when he gets outside. And there’s a beautiful roof sequence. Also impressive, and the only time he gets any real emotive symbolism out of his college-age cast, is the conclusion. There are some quick flashbacks to their terrifying night, but it works quite well in the end, even if the already overbearing music gets to be way too much.
The rest of the cast is unimpressive, Kathryn Walker the worst, John Polson probably the best. Leading man Miles Buchanan is, in his best scenes, mediocre. The script’s somewhat inventive once they’re trapped, but the setup manages to make Buchanan sympathetic (because Grives, pre-breakdown is harassing him), even with some trite, hackneyed scenes.
As a slasher movie action mix, Dangerous Game is fairly successful. It just misses raising itself to a higher level with the lame ending, which cuts off way too soon (especially given the lengthy introduction to the cast and some never to pay off foreshadowing scenes in the first act). I mean, it’s at least impressive enough I never got around to the observation for a big department store, all the scenes take place on two floors and only one of them gets destroyed in the action–as what Hopkins does with his limited budget is fantastic.
Directed by Stephen Hopkins; screenplay by Peter West, based on a script by Michael Ralph, Hopkins and John Ezrine; director of photography, Peter Levy; edited by Tim Wellburn; music by Les Gock and Steve Ball; production designer, Igor Nay; produced by Judith West and Basil Appleby; released by Quantum Films.
Starring Miles Buchanan (David), Marcus Graham (Jack), Steven Grives (Murphy), Kathryn Walker (Kathryn), Sandie Lillingston (Ziggy) and John Polson (Tony).