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Home > All Fun and Games (2023): A Review

All Fun and Games (2023): A Review

All Fun and Games a Review

I Will Play, I Won’t Quit

All Fun and Games is a film lacking any creative innovation. A somber evening by the firepit turns into a night of terror for a group of teens after their little brother discovers a knife hidden in an abandoned shack in the Salem woods. The author of their terror, a tortured soul bent on vengeance, forces them to toss their phones into the fire and then proceeds to hunt them down. This film is directed by Eren Cleboglu and Ari Costa, produced by the Russo Brothers, and was released on September 1, 2023. 

Horror is a genre that allows for deep creative exploration of themes and ideas, but unfortunately, this movie is neither scary nor engaging for the audience. A meandering approach to the genre shows that jump cuts and gross imagery of dead children are not enough to carry a film to success. Set in Salem, Massachusetts, a knife carved from bone with the words “I Will Play, I Won’t Quit” scratched into it possesses anyone who repeats the full inscription. Similar to the Evil Dead movies, a character repeats the phrase and unknowingly enters into a twisted pact with a malicious spirit who possesses the holder. In turn, this young group of teens is forced to play twisted versions of hide and seek hangman and flashlight tag. Just like in the nineties before smartphones and Fortnite! 

Themes of family upheaval and sibling squabble are tackled in this film through the three siblings and their mother, Jonah (Benjamin Evans Ainsworth), Marcus (Asa Butterfield), and Billie (Natalie Dyer). One by one, they offer themselves up to the knife by repeating the inscription carved into it in order to save the possessed host. Playing with the cursed object like it’s a game of hot potato.

The Awesome Acting Could Deliver It

IMDB lists Keith David (Nope, Krapopolis) as attached to this film, but he never makes an appearance. Basically, it makes the audience further question what happened during this film’s production. David is a strong presence on the silver screen and would have added a lot to the picture. Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game) takes the cake in this film. His portrayal of a caring yet conflicted older brother who turns into a creepy possessed killer shows the depth Butterfield has as an actor. He is certainly limited by the script in this independent film. Still, though, his portrayal of Marcus shines because of his talent and warm presence. Natalie Dyer (Stranger Things) takes a bit of a back seat. More so because of the script and editing choices, a few line deliveries that were used in the film were extremely questionable. As always, she is a strong presence on the screen because of her resume and acting ability.

All Fun and Games A Review

The Haunting of Bly Manor’s Benjamin Evan Ainsworth plays the troublesome little brother who discovers the cursed object of Salem. A creepy bone-knife that most wouldn’t dare to touch. Nevertheless, he takes the blade home and incidentally lets loose an evil entity from the days of the Salem witch trials. However, how he goes about doing so feels like a carbon copy of an Evil Dead. But still, summoning incantations in horror will always be a timeless and creepy inclusion. Ainsworth’s performance as the first character to be possessed by the knife is great. He uses his face to display a range of involuntary facial twitches and dips in emotion that are impressive for someone so young.

Remember Hide and Seek, Hangman, and Flashlight Tag?  

A big issue with this film is that it refuses to take any risks with its exploitation. Yes, it is a slasher film. But the childhood games used, hide and seek hangman, and flashlight tag, are underutilized and lack any creativity. Its dry approach to the use of violence in these kids’ games is an example of how this film lacks originality when approaching the horror tropes of jump scares, creepy children, and vengeful spirits. The use of hide and seek is simply an excuse for the killer to stalk around as the scared teens hide in hay bales or behind barn doors. Hangman could not have been more unoriginally underutilized, and while flashlight tag does get a good paranormal tweak that raises audiences’ blood pressure, the throw-away digital effects used are another example that this movie just did not get the support it needed to thrive. The words “boring” and “cheap” almost come to the center screen if it weren’t for Butterfield and Dyer. Thankfully, the two are at their height. Otherwise, this film would have fallen to the bottom of the box office at-home release list, which it may already have with its $45,000 international income.

All Fun and Games’ weakest element is it’s storytelling. But the worst part is the film never really dives into the history. This is a shame because while Salem is a bit on the nose, it is a well full of history and interesting events that play into human psychology that the film just never explores. As for the actual scares, thoughtless jump scares and off-camera kills are a further detriment to the overall production value. Celeboglu and Costa never draw out the suspense; instead, they use quick camera cuts to gross imagery and a cackling demon to try and pawn this movie off on the audience.

All Fun and Games is available to watch now on all streaming services.

All Fun and Games A Review

All Fun and Games (2023) Official Russo Brothers AGBO Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Author at Dead Talk News | Posts

Omid Rad is a freelance writer, movie lover and overall geek.

Elke Simmons' writing portfolio includes contributions to The Laredo Morning Times, Walt Disney World Eyes and Ears, Extinction Rebellion (XR) News/Blog, and Dead Talk News.