Director: Edward McGown
Writer: Chris Hill & Sam Michell
Stars: Charlie Bewley, Jack Doolan, Jack Gordon
You are a young, good looking male who is about to marry the woman of your dreams. You are from the UK, and your loyal lads are happy and proud to be your groomsmen. But before there is a white wedding and the happily ever after, there is the inevitable stag party (or bachelor party, for non-UK peeps such as yours truly). And what does one do on a stag party? Obvious: Travel to an exotic locale – in this case, somewhere in the Andes mountains of Argentina – not governed by the rules of Western modernity, drink until your liver regrets its very existence, have sex with the locals unscathed by the values of Western modernity, and then become terrorized by a mythic figure who is part human and part…stag (the word denotatively means male deer; I see what the filmmakers did there). Ok, so the last part sounds like the setup of a ridiculous horror movie. A mythic killer with a deer head? Certainly this stag party must involve acid. But for the tone of Bachelor Games, billed as a cross between The Hills Have Eyes and The Hangover, this seemingly absurd premise works. Bachelor Games is surprisingly funny, engaging, and arguably more suspenseful than horrifying.
Henry is the groom-to-be, and his friends, who are all potty-mouthed goof balls, are venturing out on a camping trip in the Andes and do engage in the Hedonistic acts mentioned above, save for the loyal Henry staying true to his betrothed. The familiar buddy horror film echoes many earlier horror films, setting no precedent that sees privileged Westerners gallivanting second and third world countries for their cheap economies. Think more along the lines of The Hangover 2 (the carbon copy of the first film set in the always exploited Thailand) meets Hostel (Jay Hernandez’s memorable line “Put on some fucking English subtitles”prompted by a dubbed version of Pulp Fiction playing in the lobby of a Bratislavian hotel lobby). Isn’t it terrible when un- and underdeveloped nations don’t bother catering to their Western visitors outside cheap hotels, cheap liquor, and child prostitutes? But I digress.
It seems the filmmakers are very aware of this horror trope, and by first toying with this idea decide to completely flip it on its head. This is not some Eli Roth commentary on colonialism or liberal sensibilities. Its message doesn’t exceed the self-contained madness and twist that I obviously cannot give away here. Yes, we will encounter this mysterious stag figure, and violence will disrupt the stag fun (going stagnant?). But the real drama is between the Bachelor and his bros, who are hiding a secret that will leave them vulnerable to the dangerous elements within the Andes.
Games these are not. Our Bachelor and his boys will have to turn their jokes into a serious game of cat and mouse, all for the sake of our entertainment. What audiences will find appealing with this film is its clever attempt to mash genres whilst still producing a credible, standalone film. More importantly, the film is just plain funny throughout.
Bachelor Games is available on iTunes from July 8.
Images: IMDb & ar-pr