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THIS GAME’S CALLED MURDER: 2 ½ STARS. “eccentrically entertaining.”

“This Game’s Called Murder,” the wild new Ron Perlman movie on VOD, is a very dark comedy about consumer culture, romance and murder that feels like a cult movie in waiting.

Written and directed by Adam Sherman, the movie is a lurid, surreal story that doesn’t play by the rules. Perlman is Mr. Wallendorf, designer of women’s luxury footwear. Known for his iconic blood red stilettos, he is a fashion icon, but behind his fame is murder, greed, and betrayal.

His wife, Mrs Wallendorf (Natasha Henstridge), is as shrewd as she is brutal, as witnessed by a scene where she shoots a business rival in the forehead and then offers to dance naked for him as he lay bleeding to death.

His daughter Jennifer (Vanessa Marano) is an alcoholic social media influencer whose on-line habits confound her father. “Why do you insist on having the entire world see you in your underwear,” he asks. “My fans love me,” she says.

Their lives are, to put it mildly, complicated. Things become more complex, and deadly, when Jennifer sabotages her father’s business as he tries to maintain a happy public face.

Ripe with violence and sex, “This Game’s Called Murder” has a kind of dream logic to its plotting. The story is jumps around from character to character, plot point to plot point, creating an absurdist whole that aims to make a statement on social ills, using violence and very dark humour.

Greed, on-line influencers, alienation and consumerism are all ripe for social satire, but director Sherman’s (who also wrote the script) scattergun approach muddies the messages. The film’s twists and turns are often eccentrically entertaining but, in the second half, become tiresome.

Strange for the sake of being strange will only get you so far, and Sherman extends the weird stuff so far it feels like it might snap like an overstretched elastic band.

The movie’s visual style catches the eye, and Perlman is always a welcome presence, but as enjoyable as “This Game’s Called Murder” can be in its individual elements, it favours edge at the expense of the storytelling.


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