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DarkGame (2024) Review

DarkGame, the latest thriller about dark doings on the Dark Web, opens with the masked figure known as The Presenter (Andrew P Stephen, Silo, Block) overseeing the murder of a bound woman in a manner chosen by the highest bidder. By the way, he chooses a chainsaw as the instrument of her demise. That’s followed by Detectives Ben Jacobs (Ed Westwick, Gossip Girl, Wolves of War) and Cathy Burnette (Lola Wayne, A Song from the Dark, Played and Betrayed) rescuing two missing children from traffickers.

Ben has barely gotten home to his pregnant wife however when they’re called back in to the station. The woman we saw killed in the opening scene had vanished without a trace a couple of weeks earlier. The footage is the only clue they have as to who is responsible, but the people behind it know how to cover their tracks. Parker Green (Rory Alexander, Dark Windows, Inland) the police cybersecurity specialist says there’s only one person who can crack their security, Raymond Lorch (Rick Yale, Face Down in the Back of A Car, Figg & Dates) a notorious hacker who was caught by Jacobs.

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DarkGame’s script by writers Gary Grant (Sonja’s World-Inside Out, Lost) and Niall Johnson (White Noise, The Ghost of Greville Lodge) is fairly generic in its setup, right down to the driven cop’s pregnant wife and an incarcerated genius who may be the police’s only hope. The one big twist seems to be The Presenter’s need to be seen. “He’s a showman” Lorch tells Ben, and that drives him to hijack the internet and make everyone his audience.

Director Howard J. Ford (The Ledge, The Dead) can’t do much about dialogue like Ben asking his wife “What do you want me to talk about, the evil inside us all? Because that’s what I face every day.”. But he does do his best to bring some impact to scenes like a branding or a loser in one of The Presenter’s games being forced to drink bleach. He also gives us decent, if unspectacular, action scenes like the capture of Katia (Natalya Tsvetkova, Cagefighter, The Doorman) a young mother whose fate we follow as the cops try to find the source of the broadcast.

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Unfortunately, we’ve seen this kind of thing so many times now, from Argento’s The Card Player to Amber Road, and by extension, H.G. Lewis’s television themed The Uh-Oh Show. DarkGame really had to do something different to stand out, but it doesn’t as it presents the plot elements we expect. The Feds taking over the case, Jacobs being taken off of it, The Presenter going after him, etc. It’s all been done before, right down to the final scene.

As I mentioned, the action scenes are decent enough for a low budget thriller, but the film has too few of them and too many montages of people staring at monitors, talking on phone sand trying to look intense. I kept waiting for DarkGame to break loose and remind me it’s by the director of The Dead, but it never does.

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It’s a bland retelling of a story we’ve seen too many times before, with a script that can’t come up with anything compelling enough to keep viewers invested in it. Even the couple of interesting ideas it does have are raised and immediately dropped, rather than developed. If you’re looking for a thriller and in a very undemanding mood, DarkGame might keep your attention. But most viewers are going to be looking at their watch by the film’s halfway point.

Gravitas Ventures has released DarkGames on VOD and Digital Platforms. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more information.

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