09:35 - 27th August 2013, by Calum Waddell

Death Game

Hideo Nakata was once dubbed the fresh face of fear after he reinvented eastern horror with his 1998 classic Ringu. Unfortunately, despite following up his most famous frightener with the even more fantastic Dark Water (2002), subsequent years have been tough for the terror auteur. Unable to recapture his early zest, Nakata has been squandering away on shockless silliness such as 2010's Chatroom and this latest outing - an adaptation of the bestselling novel The Incite House: 7 Day Death Game. The plot behind this one is pure Agatha Christie: ten strangers arrive for a job interview only to find out that they are being secluded within a mysterious underground apartment and subjected to a vague psychological experiment in which 'kill or be killed' is the name of the game. What follows is a bit of a generic mishmash - with traps inspired by the Saw movies, a Ten Little Indians slasher-type premise and the occasional addition of J-horror atmospherics.

Unfortunately, despite the all Japanese cast, Nakata's film feels way more 'Hollywood' and 'safe' than his most famous work. Whilst Death Game is uniformly well acted, and boasts superior production values, there is a bit too much exposition for our liking (lots of walking around barren corridors without much happening, for instance) and few splattery treats. That said, Nakata occasionally shines - and stages the odd solid jump-scare - but the evidence is that our man needs to find that creepy 'comeback' which will show viewers that the man behind Dark Water and Ring is back on form.

Death Game is not a bad movie, and it holds your attention, but given Nakata's best work, we cannot help but expect more from him...
SCORE: 3/5
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