The OctoGames Poster

The OctoGames (2022) Review

YouTuber JaxPro (Brad Belemjian, Death Ranch, Curse of the Nun) is staging a contest, The OctoGames, so named because there are eight games and octopuses have eight arms. It’s nothing at all to do with cashing in on The Squid games, really.

Since he’s retiring from social media, the prize will be all of his channels, sponsorships, and one hundred and fifteen million followers. It’s all really simple, too after an elimination round of Simon Says, the eight finalists will compete in various children’s games until only one is left, and they win it all.

Imagine the shock when the costumed mascot beats the first to be eliminated to death with a sledgehammer. JaxPro didn’t mention that losing means you get killed. He probably figured that by now you know that’s how it goes in movies like this.

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On his website, writer/director Aaron Mirtes (Painted in Blood, The Alpha Test) says The OctoGames went from script to delivery of the finished film in just three and a half months. Mirtes is a fairly prolific filmmaker, so that’s not too hard to believe, especially once you’ve seen the film. The script was obviously put together quickly from bits and pieces of everything from The Squid Games to Saw to Funhouse. It’s a mix and match of internet voyeurism, fatal games, influencer culture, group politics, and good old-fashioned greed.

Similarly, the characters are familiar archetypes such as Squish (Cael Adcock, Curse of the Nun, Yesterday) the asshole who’s as happy slapping the female contestants around as he is cheating his way through the games, Walter (Henry Haggard, Fogg, Blood Rogues) the wealthy entrepreneur, Ruth (Alice Raver, The Last Punch, Ouija Craft), the bitch who smiles when one of the others is beaten to death with a crowbar and Carrie (Lacy Hartselle, Death Cast, American Hunt) the presumptive final girl.

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Despite the very familiar material and low budget, Mirtes gets considerable mileage out of The OctoGames situations. Smartly, he keeps the challenges to things that can be shot on a budget rather than resort to bad CGI. And the prospect of a lethal game of hopscotch or musical chairs has a certain twisted appeal to it. The inflatable obstacle course has a low-end “Wipeout” appeal to it.

There’s also a bit of behind-the-scenes drama involving JaxPro and his girlfriend Luna (Fallon Gyurko, ‘89, Escape Pod). Throw in some shady business with some of the guards, and there’s enough going on to keep The OctoGames from getting dull between the actual games. And having the games scattered throughout the film makes sure that the dialogue-heavy scenes don’t go on too long before someone is getting killed.

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Unfortunately, as I said earlier The OctoGames is a low-budget film, not quite Mark Polonia low, but low. So, unlike several of the films that inspired it, the deaths here aren’t heavy on the gore effects. Several people get killed by a single bullet to the abdomen, for example. The sledgehammer killing is kept off-camera as well. Other times we see a bloody victim, but not the injuries one would expect. It’s not as big of a deal in a film like this as it is in a straight-up horror film, but showing one of the early deaths in more detail would have helped increase the sense of danger.

The OctoGames is an enjoyable B movie that never claims to be anything else. And as such, it does its job and has enough going for it to make an hour and a half pass quickly and enjoyably. Which is more than I can say for a lot of films I’ve seen recently.

The OctoGames is available on Digital and VOD platforms from High Octane Pictures. You can check their Facebook page for more information. And if this wasn’t quite what you wanted, FilmTagger can help you find what you’re after.

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