NO GAME LIKE FOXES
Firstly, I’d just like to start off with a big thank you to both Writer/Director, Raphael Arkera of Blue Pulse Studios, as well as Co-Producer, Shant Hamassian for allowing me early access to their debut 12 minute, Horror/Thriller short “No Game Like Foxes”. No Game Like Foxes is an isolated thriller in which a man (played by Chris Jehnert) finds himself being hunted by an unrelenting killer wearing a fox mask. The seemingly random cat and mouse game comes to its culmination in a cabin in the woods. The film also stars Hannah Keeley and Matt Philliben.
No Game Like Foxes was one that I saw circling on social media and the poster art is something that jumped out at me immediately so I wanted to chase it up. It’s a first time venture for Arkera and the end result is a rather impressive one, albeit somewhat gainless. Right out of the gate I dug the large 70’s inspired yellow font used for the title and opening credits – the film’s look reminiscent of the likes of Tarantino’s body of work. Those particular aesthetics extend to the gorgeous low contrasting color grade by editor, Adam Jones (who also does a nice job with the pacing of the edit). DP, Devon Schiro has been working in shorts for a number of years and clearly knows his way around the camera. It opens with simple drone footage showcasing the beautiful Pennsylvania landscape – eventually revealing the heavily wooded surroundings and river bed that plays host to the bulk of the film. In addition, Devon shares the load nicely between skilled handheld footage and a more cinematic approach of wides and mid-range shots. Lastly, Andrew Joslyn generates an interesting orchestral based score which becomes progressively darker as the situation heightens for our man in peril.
No Game Like Foxes contains some solid action in which a little of the red stuff flows, though sadly we don’t get to experience the reward that inevitably comes with witnessing that pivotal moment. The film will quite clearly draw parallels with the likes of “The Most Dangerous Game” (the first of this kind), “The Purge”, and even more recently “The Hunt”, although perhaps without the presence and witticism of a social commentary. There is one semi interesting layer to this one and it revolves around Eliza Darling (Keeley), the host of the “event” (for lack of a better term). It goes mostly unseen, but there’s an audience of sorts clearly looking to be appeased – and it’s two-fold (think Funny Games). In a way it’s almost as if they’re watching the film and its events with us, or at least that’s how I read it. I wasn’t really clear on the machinations of that element though, and truth be told, that might have actually been more absorbing than what was ultimately put on screen. I found the film lacked an original component to help separate it from the masses of other shorts or features about masked killers hunting humans for sport.
Those personal preferences aside, No Game Like Foxes is extremely polished on the technical front and more than serviceable in the entertainment value department. First-timer, Raphael Arkera appears to have obtained all the pieces of the puzzle and assembled them rather well in this first attempt. The production value looks classy, the cinematography is engaging and multifaceted, and the expanding score is an interesting one. I think in this particular format I’d love to have seen a little more focus placed on the setup rather than purely just the cat and mouse game that ultimately ensues. Although credit does have to go to stunt coordinator- turned actor, Matt Philliben, along with lead actor Chris Jehnert for conceiving a very good fight scene toward the end of the film. No Game Like Foxes is currently playing on the film festival circuit but be sure to like the Facebook page and follow the official IMDb and keep an eye out for its release later in the year!
No Game Like Foxes – 7.5/10