Nemesis Game (2003)
Director: Jesse Warn
Lost soul Sarah (Pope) starts playing a mysterious riddle game and gets more than she bargained for. Myth has it that if you solve the game, the meaning of existence is revealed to the player through a concept known as "The Design". Will Adrian Paul save the day? Who cares…did you see that impeccably dyed blonde hair!
Why are we here? Why do the awful things that happen to us really happen? Is there a valid reason behind any of it? Will one bad experience lead to something positive? Is there a grand design or do events go down because life is just a bitch and then you expire? "Nemesis Game" explores that question and much like in real life...didn’t bother to give me an answer.
I will give props where props are due: "Nemesis Game" had a lot going for it. It's premise of using riddles written on walls as a metaphor for the grand questions that we all ask ourselves in regards to life was a gripping one. It was a kool concept and I related to the existential feel of it all big-time! The great casting also made the film a more bang-on watch. Talented and yummy Carly Pope carried the flick like a steroid princess and the same can be said about Arrow favorite Adrian Paul; who keeps on shunning the easy bucks (playing in mindless action films) to tackle “acting roles”. The man commanded the screen and that blonde hair ruled hell, heaven and earth! On a visual note, the flick also sported a delicious coating of dark atmosphere that gave me the willies more than once and coupled with the tight editing, the swift pace and the occasional unsettling moments of tension, resulted in a sweet and effortless sit down.
Where "Nemesis Game" failed me is that it didn’t give me enough potent jolts throughout. The film firmly established this enigmatic game going around town, gave me a murder and a couple of “ok” twists and that was that. I expected heavier stuff! The narrative needed more bumps, more conflict and more drastic turns as it moved forward. I was waiting for the substance to be taken to the next level, but it never did strongly enough to leave an impression up until the badass final frame of the movie. I’ll admit that although I saw the “cap off” coming like a 400-pound drag queen wearing a peanut butter mask on her/his face, it still packed a decent punch. Also, I know that the movie wasn’t giving us answers to echo the unanswered questions we all have regarding our own existence, but this is a movie after all and SOME concrete answers might've helped make the narrative more engaging and the eventual outcome, more rewarding.
Having said that, you can do much worse than "Nemesis Game" since it includes obvious hard work, love and a desire to put out something unique, all of which made the flick a gnarly watch even with its flaws. What is the meaning of life, you ask? To me, it’s simple: the ocean, lots of money, a bottle of Jack and a fly girl that I LOVE on my side. I don’t need much more than that, but for some freaking reason-- it seems to be a hard goal to attain. You feeling me on this? Yes? No? Whatever…this drink’s for all the discontent people of the world! Gulp, gulp! Let’s play the game!
We get a slit throat and that's pretty much all she wrote.
Carly Pope (Sarah) owned the screen and reached all of the right emotional notes. She was easy on the eyes too. I smell big stardom for this one. Adrian Paul (Vern) gave yet another endearing performance; the guy is just so likeable; keep that blonde hair dude, it rocked! Brendan Fehr (Skateboarder) did fine as the dimwitted skateboarder duder. Rena Owen (Emily) was genuinely creepy as the enigmatic loon. Remember her from "Once Were Warriors"? She’s a fine actress and it’s nice to see her get some work.
T & A
A couple of “professional entertainers” let loose in their undies in a strip club. Nothing to go “wood” about here. The ladies get Adrian Paul in a tight t-shirt.
Jesse Warn gives us lots of creative shots, slick angles, inventive scene transitions and also managed to give the film a morbid yet polished (loved the lighting) mood. He’s a guy to look for; the skills are there.
An eerie score and some badass heavy metal riffs. I bought it!
"Nemesis Game" had it all except the ability to take its kool premise far enough to fully come through as a whole. It’s definitely worth a rental though, if not for the sly concept, for the well rounded Carly Pope, too-kool-for-school Adrian Paul and the spooky atmosphere. You know what? Maybe I was destined to see this film and now that I have something bad or good will happen to me. Funny thing is that after watching the damn thing I couldn’t sleep. It's now Monday, 4 in the morning and I freaking work at 6AM…dammit…maybe life just happens and then you die…maybe that’s all there is to it… I’ll ponder that one over a game of razor blade chewing and get back to you on that….or will I? Dang!
This film was shot in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was also shot in New Zealand.
Carly Pope originates from Vancouver BC.
The flick was originally called “Paper, Scissors, Stone”
Lions Gate is releasing this flick on DVD on June 10, 2003.