XYZ Films presents
Jim Mahoney, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Jon Bass, Sarunas J. Jackson, Shelley Hennig, John Ales, Amy Davidson
A group of old friends reunites for a nostalgic evening of fun and games after a decade apart. After one too many, they decide to play a drinking game, but it’s quickly revealed that this game comes with supernatural stakes. Mischief leads to mayhem, and the group realizes that if they can’t come together to win the game by sunrise, they will be forced to play for eternity – in hell.
So there isn’t a shortage of movies based on the concept of board games Jumanji, Clue, Ouija, and Zathura just to name a few. Is Gatlopp worthy of joining that list, let’s find out.
The movie gets going when the pot-smoking manchild Cliff (Jon Bass) picks up a futon for his friend (who is getting a divorce). The person who sells Cliff the futon also gifts him a credenza(which becomes important later in the film).
Samantha (Emmy Raver-Lampman) is a sought-after Tv producer, Paul (Jim Mahoney) the depressed futon surfing friend who Cliff buys the futon for, and Troy (Sarunas J. Jackson) a struggling actor. This group of old friends gets back together for a night of cheering up Paul.
Paul is proud that he is still the hard-drinking, pot-smoking life of the party that each friend remembers from a decade ago. He gets the party going with drinks and small conversation before breaking out Gatlopp (a board game that is as mysterious as its name). The group decides to play the game and while Samantha starts listing off the rules Cliff pulls them away saying “We’ll learn and play”.
Although the game starts fun the questions get more difficult and the stakes get larger.
The film is of a low-budget style, but that works in its favour. The characters are believable and bring you in with their charm. This isn’t just witty writing as the actors/actresses really give a great performance. These characters are more fleshed out than in larger budget films (IE Jumanji remake). Each character has a backstory and personality. These are all revealed as the game and night grow longer. The friends end up revealing things that they never thought they would ever share. The characters aren’t cookie-cut, there’s a real-life feel to them. Paul’s sadness pours throughout the film. Actually, each character looks back at their life and sees things that draw out emotional damage. These people are a mess and on the outside, they look like things are good, but inside lies the truth. It’s believable and authentic.
Director Alberto Belli uses flashbacks throughout the film to show the change in characters. This works on many levels to help remind viewers why we should care about each character and see the struggles they are coping with. One stand-out scene comes courtesy of Emmy Raver-Lampman. Sam’s dialogue about a secret she’s been holding in shame really pulls at the heartstrings. This is done with such emotion and great direction. This is why Gatlopp is such a gem of a film.
One other thing that really helps the film is its musical composition. Composer Kenny Wood (whose past projects include Scream 5, Fate of the Furious, and Oktapod), really brings the emotional cues right on time. It is subtle in more dramatic scenes but loud and adventurous in more action-based scenes. It really kept the film feeling fun and adds to the enjoyment throughout the 80- minute runtime.
Although the film is listed in the horror genre the fact is this is more of a dramedy. There is a level of f-bombs in the dialogue that would make Joe Pesci blush. It gets a pass because it is a goofy, loving real-to-life film that draws viewers in. Don’t pass on Gatlopp because it is destined for quirky cult status.
On-Demand and on Digital June 23