The Pretty Young People Go Into the Woods And Die Horribly subgenre is not a small field, especially on Netflix Instant. Like most of its peers, Mine Games sports an attractive cast, 90 minute runtime, and uninspiring poster. Thankfully, it also has a little more storyline (review spoiler alert: perhaps too much storyline) and an admirable sense of ambition.
It’s almost adorable.
Quick Plot: A group of attractive recent college graduates embark on a road trip to spend a few days at their friend's secluded cabin mansion in the woods. Attractive young people include the following:
Lyla, the sensible brunette played by Step Up and a whole lot of horror movies' Brianna Evigan
|(No, this isn't from Mine Games, but don't you wish it was?)|
Mike, her schizophrenic boyfriend who doesn't like to talk about being a schizophrenic boyfriend
TJ, the jock
Lex, his British and obnoxious cousin
Claire, the blonde
Rose, the medium (every group of attractive friends has one)
and Guy, the other guy
En route, driver Mike swerves to not kill a man flagging them down for help but drives on without helping said flagger. Shortly after, the car breaks down just a few miles from the group's destination. They walk on (passing mysterious Northern Lights along the way) to find their pal's house empty but welcoming, with a note and plenty of cocktail glasses of all sizes and shapes to ensure a good party no matter what your drink of choice might be.
The next day, TJ discovers an abandoned mine that obviously equals THE best place to take psychedelic mushrooms. Rose senses some evil presence is afoot, especially after something seemingly evil grabs her foot.
See what I did there?
Things get progressively weirder from that point on. It's interesting because with its pretty cast and out-in-the-woods premise, it would have been fairly simple to keep Mine Games (also known under the cheesier title The Evil Within) in the realms of the easy slasher. Director Richard Gray, working with a whole lot of writers (probably too many writers), instead makes a rather complicated little horror film that leans more towards Triangle than The Evil Dead.
It's a mixed blessing.
Mine Games ultimately has far more ambition than air-tight quality, but that's not to say it isn't an enjoyable watch. The script gets quite tricky once its third act revs up, and while it's admirably suspenseful and occasionally disturbing, I don't think it actually comes together fully. In some ways, that's absolutely fine. I don't mind a film that keeps me guessing. I just usually like to know that I might eventually stumble upon the right answer.
It doesn’t all work, but come on: I’ll take a horror movie that goes for a complicated plot twist involving worm holes over yet another found footage slasher any day
I can't imagine anyone in the mental health field is happy about how horror films have taken to blaming schizophrenia for all the horrors of the world
I might be in the minority here, but is it crazy to want to be able to see a movie? I get that we're in a mine and overhead lighting doesn't come for free, but you know...cinema is a fairly visual medium and stuff.
Splitting up is the number one way to get pack raped
In the words of George Bluth Sr., THAT'S WHY YOU LEAVE A NOTE.
In the amended lesson from this film, THAT'S WHY YOU SIGN YOUR NOTE.
For a straight to Instant Watch horror film, Mine Games is better, or at least more interesting than average. Like a lot of time travel-based films, it falls apart with too much analysis. If you can suspend logic, Mine Games makes for a pretty fun, surprising, and even occasionally scary little viewing. One could do far worse with original horror in the 21st century.