A group of irritating, loud, gung-ho paintball players are taken to some woods, where a man with thermal imaging goggles sets traps and shoots at them with real ammunition. And he couldn’t start soon enough, as far as I was concerned.
The film has lots of potential. It starts off as creepy, with the players blindfolded and handcuffed in a truck. I liked the sense of claustrophobia created in the woods. But despite all the drama, shooting, shouting and running around, I found myself getting bored during the action scenes. It’s hard to feel anything other than intense annoyance for victims who do little more than yell and shout and squabble all the time. There’s no real character development, no back stories, and nothing memorable about any of them. It’s hard to tell one player from another. For hardcore paintball players, they make themselves ridiculously exposed (by standing on top of car roofs yelling, or running around screaming) then act surprised when they’re shot at. I couldn’t care less about any of the victims, and was even cheering some of the deaths.
It’s all filmed with hand-held shaky camerawork, as if showing the point of view of someone watching them. But then it becomes confusing when the camera starts moving around and in front of characters without any reaction from them. It also becomes wearing very quickly.
The actual killings are shown through the killer’s thermal imaging goggles, reminding me of Predator (1987). This is interesting at first, though it did make me wonder whether it’s also a way of disguising low budget special effects. A few times it works well – for example when a character is in a dark room with a glass floor, and the thermal imaging view reveals a group of people watching from the darkness beneath. But this technique quickly becomes distracting and the lack of red blood becomes disappointing.
The film tries hard to look like torture porn, but with very little gore. It has elements of Hostel (2005), Saw (2004) Hounds of Zardoff (1932), Surviving The Game (1994) and even television’s Big Brother too. But it gets far less emotional reaction from me than any of those (and yes I include Big Brother in that). There are a few tense scenes, and the killings are mostly creative. The head-bashing-with-a-rifle scene is particularly disturbing and effective (despite the black and white thermal imaging) and there’s an original use of landmines and a bulletproof vest.
The film’s quite predictable, and the ‘survivor’ can easily be guessed early on. It has plenty of cliches (why would a woman in peril suddenly take off her protective army gear and start running around in a bra?) And I think I understand what happens in the final scene, but the way it’s filmed makes it very confusing.
Did I think this was a bad film? Yes. But not the ‘fun’ kind of bad film. Me shouting at noisy characters on the screen to shut up, or cheering their death scenes, might say something about my viewing experience. Other times I felt bored or just angry. This is neither a fun b-movie, nor an unintentionally funny bad film. It’s just bad. 1/5