This underrated little gem of a film delivers everything that many big budget horror productions attempt to, on a much smaller budget, with a cast of lesser-known actors. Despite it being a remake of a Thai film called "13: Game Of Death", this flick has proven to be one of my personal favorites among more modern horror. Like the best remakes of foreign films, it keeps the plot and many elements of the original intact, but lends a more American flavor to them. In many film's cases, this means rampant jump-scares and crappy CGI, but not here. The premise of both films serves to highlight the corruption of capitalism, the way in which the wealthy exploit the suffering with the promise of riches in payment for unjust actions, and how far one person is willing to go just for a large paycheck. This is highlighted in an early scene, in which the main character is asked to scam a customer out of money, and refuses, thus losing his job. He has to resort to much the same, and even worse, over the course of the "game" that is central to the film.
Audiences will be able to sympathize with the main character here, a decent guy whose life is spiraling out of control thanks to debts, corruption and personal issues. He is played with great depth by Mark Webber, always an underrated indie actor, who gives one of his strongest performances to date here. Daniel Stamm ratchets up a boiling head of steam in the director's chair, making this a truly intense, suspenseful film, where complications and tensions build on top of each other until the result becomes chaotic and suffocating. There's also some incredible set-pieces which provide some of the most memorable, brutal moments of horror in recent memory. The script manages to steadily unfurl a series of jaw-dropping twists, without ever becoming too busy or unbelievable. The whole thing is like a well-oiled machine, mounting to a meaningful, complex ending. It functions both as a genuinely effective horror/thriller and a genre film with something to say. All the while a streak of black comedy underlines the proceedings. Truly a top notch example of what independent genre filmmaking should be, and can achieve.
My Rating: 9/10