28th Aug2015

FrightFest 2015: ‘Landmine Goes Click’ Review

by Jack Kirby

Stars: Sterling Knight, Spencer Locke, Dean Geyer, Kote Tolordava, Giorgi Tsaava, Helen Nelson, Nana Kiknadze, Nika Apriashvili | Written by Levan Bakhia, Adrian Colussi, Lloyd S. Wagner | Directed by Levan Bakhia

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Generally speaking, I’m a fan of the ‘protagonist(s) are trapped in a single location’ sub-genre of the thriller. I have previously enjoyed a lot of them, such as 127 Hours, Fermat’s Room, Exam, Phone Booth, Buried, Cube; even trashier fare like Devil (which, as @MatBarnett correctly points out, should really have been called ‘Hellevator‘) has entertained me. Landmine Goes Click certainly did not.

The reason all of the above films work, at least on some level, is because when constraints are imposed on a narrative, it’s not just the protagonists that have to think creatively. Filmmakers are forced to try different ways of telling their stories both in a practical sense (how are we going to shoot this and keep it interesting?) and in a narrative sense (is our character compelling enough to maintain audience interest in such limited circumstances and how do we get them out of this situation? Do we get them out of this situation?).

Landmine Goes Click does not rise to these challenges. Also borrowing from the ‘westerners get into trouble in Eastern Europe’ sub-genre, the film sees a couple and their best friend hiking in Georgia. Unfortunately, the third wheel Chris (Sterling Knight) has slept with his best friend Daniel (Dean Geyer)’s fiancĂ© Alicia (Spencer Locke). Even more unfortunately, Daniel knows and contrives a fairly convoluted plan that sees Chris stuck stood on a live landmine, which will explode if he steps off it.

What should then be problem-solving, love triangle thriller instead becomes a misanthropic, xenophobic and misogynist exercise in making characters utterly unlikeable and seeing how far we can degrade and destroy female characters for no convincing reason. With crap dialogue. It’s never really about the peril that Chris is in, moreover just an exercise in making miserable characters more miserable and in particular, using the horrific abuse of women as nothing more than a tool to punish men. The true antagonist of the film turns out not to be Daniel but Ilya (Kote Tolordava), a vile local who happens upon the scenario and begins to take advantage of the situation in a manner both preposterous and despicable.

The worst part is, Levan Bakhia, who directs and is responsible for the fairly wretched excuse for a story, seems to be playing the film entirely straight. I’m not saying it would be any good, but Landmine Goes Click could almost get away with it if it even slightly ironised or satirised the actions it portrays. But no, we’re given indulgent, lengthy scenes of torture which have nothing more to say than, look, how awful is this? There’s even the opportunity in the ‘I got bored of the single location ethos’ third act when the tables inevitably get turned for things to be made something approaching right, for characters to grow or develop or do something unexpected, but nope, the relentless need for hateful things to happen to hateful people continues.

Obviously, horrofic things are supposed to happen in horror films (which by its presence at FrightFest, this nominally kind of is) but really, they’re supposed offer something a little more than that too. Landmine Goes Click simply offers a bunch of assholes being assholes to each other with no wit, intelligence or creativity for two hours and leaves you with nothing more to think about whatsoever. If pushed, perhaps the theme of the film is ‘violence begets violence’, but really? No shit. I think the final shot really put the nail in the coffin for me; clearly we’re supposed to marvel at what Bakhia obviously thinks is a clever-clever metaphor, but all that came to mind was oh do fuck off.

0/5

 

 

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