Game Over

wogma rating: Catch on TV/online for sure (?)

quick review:

I am happy that it is over. Because it is a reasonably well-made horror-thriller. Thank goodness for the jarring, loud background music, else my nerves wouldn’t have allowed me to write.

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Director: Ashwin Saravanan
Running time: 105 minutes
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Almost every half well-made horror film feels like “game over” to me. The scare tactics used by horror films is annoying in the first place. Yet, it is the automatic physiological response of the body that I have to work hard to ignore. And some times the trouble just doesn’t seem worth the effort.

On the other hand though, this film has Tapsee Pannu and even though her performance in this one could be quite predictable, her choice in films is usually intriguing. So, in this case, it turns out that I suffer from the fear of missing out on a good film. I guess I have enough time to toughen the nerves.

Game Over releases on 14 June 2019.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Game Over’s abstract bits slip into the main story slyly and that is its greatest lure. Sure, once you are out of the theater, you realise that the entire thing is pretty random. Clearly, the writer had a base idea and then did whatever it took to put that into a script, even if most of it didn’t connect with each other. But, while you are in that dark room with Sapna (Tapsee Pannu), all you want to do is get out. And that is the film’s success, isn’t it?

All the good work in the first half just seems like a manipulation to make the escalation in the second half seem remotely possible.

Interestingly, this is not the first time we have seen Tapsee Pannu scared. But, this is not her usual do. Here, she has a layer of courage underneath. In fact, she seems slightly unconvincing when she is supposed to seem weak. Vinodhini Vaidynathan on the other hand, though doesn’t need much variation in her performance, is good support. I assume some of the performance loses its charm because of the dubbing (I saw the Hindi dubbed version).

The thrill of being in the moment, and the moment becoming too much give you the right scares. And it is great to the extent that jump scares aren’t used all the time. Beyond that though the writing is uneven. The basic plot brings the curiosity but the details become slightly amusing. Some bits seem spooky for the sake of being spooky and gory for the sake of being gory. And the background music distracts from the seriousness. I am thankful to it though, because if the rest of the movie were music-free like the opening sequence, I don’t think I would have been able to sit through. Yes, yes, I told myself it is just a film. Yes, I remembered that too—that it is intentional direction to make your skin crawl. It doesn’t help, people!

Some breaks from these thrills come in the form of Sapna’s visit to her psycho-therapist. In the first half it did seem like it was a healthy take on mental health without getting into too much detail or making it preachy. But, in the second half things escalate and the progression doesn’t seem natural. All the good work in the first half just seems like a manipulation to make the escalation in the second half seem remotely possible. Of course, I am no expert on mental health.

Even so, Game Over, like some of the other horror/thriller films in the recent past takes you beyond the usual horror genre. The attempt at story-telling is apparent. That it doesn’t get it all right, is alright. Actually, I am only grateful.

- meeta, a part of the audience

23 reviewers(?) - 13 yays 7 so-so 3 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Baradwaj Rangan, Blogical Conclusion, The New Sunday Express : ...Here’s another angle. Game Over is a movie about a ghost possessing a body in order to extract revenge. (The means through which the “spirit” enters the body is genius, one of the most unique and imaginative plot points I’ve seen.) This angle involves a tattoo artist (Ramya Subramanian), and her place of business does sound like something to do with the afterlife: Immortal Inks.... full review

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Bolly Spice : ...There are no major characters besides the heroine and her domestic help, not even some boyfriend tucked away in the background waiting to spring his ‘support’ to the female hero. Tapsee’s Swapna is on her own when the first blow falls on her head. She takes on the violation in the belief that paranoia, like many other violence-induced ailments in our society, will disperse when you take it on headlong.... full review

Thumbs up, by Suguna Sundaram, cineblitz : ...CineBlitz Verdict: The director leaves a thread, so subtle, to be interpreted by the viewer where you sometimes wonder, is it a game or a figment of her imagination, or is it real?... full review

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Watch the film for its unique take on the home invasion horror sub-genre. It's an overall well-made film and a couple of shots really spook you out for sure...... full review

Thumbs up, by T J Reddy, fullhyd.com : ...Co-writer/director Ashwin Saravanan and his crew leave their characters in the water and wait for the crocodiles to attack. In the real world there is no chance of survival, but the method with which the storyteller constructs his fictional world leaves a sliver of a chance on the table. He makes you root for the impossible against your better judgement, and therein lies Game Over's biggest win. Every other piece of subtle social commentary you can glean from the movie is just a bonus.... full review

Thumbs up, by Janani K, india today : ...Taapsee Pannu's Game Over is a multi-layered and concept-oriented film that has its heart at the right place. With a screenplay that offers many thrills, Game Over is a must-watch this summer.... full review

Thumbs up, indiaglitz : ...'Game Over' raises the bar for thrillers. By enriching itself with sub-genres, sub-layers and technical finesse, the film offers nail-biting as well as heart-rending moments. Expect a terrific performance from Taapsee Pannu and you won't be disappointed.... full review

Thumbs up, by Gautam Batra, koimoi : ...Game Over is among one of the well made Indian thrillers. Watch it for Taapsee Pannu and for the love of edge of the seat entertainment.... full review

Thumbs up, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...Okay. Let's not over-think this. Or even over-explain. That's best left to the individual viewer's experience. Everything else is peak mental-masturbation that movie reviewers are accused of anyway.... full review

Thumbs up, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...The screenplay, smart and minimalist, lets the camera and the two actresses who are in front of it (Pannu and Vinodhini) do their thing without undue manipulation. It is the background score (Ron Ethan Yohann) that is a touch excessive.... full review

Thumbs up, Sify Movies : ...The director has extracted the best from his technicians, Ron Ethan Yohan’s haunting background score and Vasanth’s crystal clear cinematography are the two biggest assets of the film. Overall, Game Over is a laudable attempt by Ashwin and he is definitely one of the promising filmmakers of this generation! On the whole, watch it, for it bravely treads new ground.... full review

Thumbs up, by Srivatsan S, The Hindu : ...Game Over is a unique, ambitious, unsettling film that is a marvellous achievement in the psychological horror genre... full review

Thumbs up, by Amman Khurana, Times Now : ...Game Over also has paranormal and psychological layers. But unfortunately, they are not explored to their fullest potential, due to which multiple questions remain unanswered. In the second half, there is a tug of war of sorts between reality and fiction, which creates more confusion than clarity. Intriguing for the most part, Game Over, therefore, fails to reach a satisfying climax. But that does not take away from the spine-chilling experience it is.... full review

So-So, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...In other words, GAME OVER can only be seen once for the worth praising performances of its two female protagonists Taapsee Pannu and Vinodhini Vaidyanathan (there is no other lead character in the film) plus for the scary ambience created by a good background score in particular. But that too, when the film soon gets released at Netflix, avoiding it in the theater.... full review

So-So, by ARNAB BANERJEE, Deccan Chronicle : ...Since thrillers are characterised by the moods they elicit, and give viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety from moment to moment, one would have been waiting beyond the 105-minutes of the film’s repetitive scenes to munch some more popcorn, had there been some more insights into the characters — or an extra twist in the end. But imagine, with not much to chew on, even a less than two-hour-long film seemed never ending.... full review

So-So, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...Ashwin Saravanan blends psychology and paranormal to give you a thrilling ride that's got a few speed-breakers, but still makes for a spine-chilling twisty game.... full review

So-So, by Raja Sen, Hindustan Times : ...This could so easily have been a smart film. We are never told why the heroine loves or makes games. Sapna doesn’t learn from mistakes, or ever truly take charge. No wonder she can’t beat her Pac-Man score.... full review

So-So, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...Over time, Pannu seems to have carved an onscreen niche for herself — an urban female from the NCR — vulnerable yet determined, frail yet formidable. While she manages to keep up with her character’s debilitating state here, the writing often dilutes the tension.... full review

So-So, by Manisha Lakhe, Now Running.com : ...Taapsee Pannu is a video game designer/player who is afraid of the dark with suicidal tendencies. Her home is invaded by a serial killer. With both her legs fractured, can she face him or is it game over? Unfortunately, the premise is so lame and the killer is not scary at all, so the film falls flat on its face.... full review

So-So, by Renuka Vyavahare, Times of India : ...Taapsee Pannu is sincere but her performance isn’t a revelation here. She has pulled off such fearful characters with conviction before. The director’s attempt to infuse panic works to a certain extent. His inability to get deeper into Sapna’s mind and analyse her worst fears, make this potentially promising game a damp squib. It is engaging and atmospheric but largely convoluted and unprovocative.... full review

Thumbs down, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...Taapsee powers through the sloppiness of this material. So does her co-star Vinodhini Vaidyanathan, whose maternal disposition works like a calming balm on all the screaming and slicing. To steal a line from Shakespeare, Game Over is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing. These two deserved a better film.... full review

Thumbs down, by Vishal Verma, Glamsham.com : ...GAME OVER is a cacophony of gore and screams that tries to shop at every tool available in the thriller/slasher/supernatural/horror genre that is completely prosthetic in its virtuosity to be politically relevant and correct. Ashwin Saravanan is unaware when to leave and how to pill the gore with tension and emotion. GANE OVER ends like a show reel – montage of a crazy, juvenile lover of slasher, supernatural and horror genre that makes no sense.... full review

Thumbs down, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...There are a couple of genuinely scary moments, but the rest of it is too stretched: even the 102 minute run time feels too long, with not enough thrills or chills.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Beheading, a few times. Brutal murders and burning of bodies alive. The scares too seemed violent to me.
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Rape is implied, though not explicitly shown. But the struggle is disturbing enough
  • Concept: A serial killer (?) is on the prowl.
  • General Look and Feel: Not the usual horror glumness. The setting is a regular middle-class home.

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