24th Sep2021

‘The 100 Candles Game’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Magui Bravi, Luz Champané, Amparo Espinola, Clara Kovacic, Agustin Olcese, Amy Smart, James Wright | Written by Mauro Croche, Guillermo Lockhart | Directed by Victor Catala, Brian Deane, Oliver Lee Garland, Guillermo Lockhart, Tony Morales, Nicolás Onetti, Nicholas Peterson, Daniel Rübesam, Christopher West

[NOTE: With the film out next week in the UK, here’s a reposting of our review of The 100 Candles Game (aka 100 Candles) from its US release earlier this year]

Where to start with The 100 Candles Game? How about the fact this is actually yet another one of those direct to DVD anthologies made up of numerous unconnected shorts which are contained within a wraparound story filmed specifically for this release – think Zombieworld, Galaxy of Horrors, Battle in Space or A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio. And its the latter anthology that is most connected to 100 Candles, as both films come from producer Nicolás Onetti; with A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio‘s writer Guillermo Lockhart also directing here – namely the wraparound segment of the film.

The 100 Candles Game is made up of a number of shorts of varying quality and length: from the short, sharp shocks of A Little Taste by Victor Català, which sees a girl and her father trap a child-eating with; and Buried Alive by Oliver Lee Garland, in which a woman is literally buried alive (though I have no idea what was going on here as the segment is in Spanish and my copy was sans subtitles); to the simply stunning short When Demons Die by Daniel Rübesam, which plays with audience expectation SUPERBLY and stands head and shoulders above the rest of the shorts on display here.

We also get Black-Eyed Child from Tony Morales, in which the titular black-eyed kids torment a housebound old woman. Then there’s The Visitant, which stars Amy Smart (Stargirl, Flight 7500) as a mother protecting her child from a demon… or is she the demon? The penultimate short is Blight, a 15 minute trip into the world of an exorcist from director Brian Deane, that sees Father Carey  sent to a remote island in 1950s Ireland to rid a young pregnant girl of a demon that possesses her.. but all is not what it seems. The shorts wrap up with Christopher West’s Drip, which sees a woman movie into her very own apartment in L.A; only it seems she’s not alone.

The 100 Candles Game ends by concluding the wraparound story, which has the same “sting in the tale” (pun intended) storytelling as many of the shorts that were within it and is just as effective. Speaking of the included shorts, When Demons Die is a stunning piece of cinema that, whilst it wouldn’t really be as effective as a feature should definitely be on more people’s radar; Blight is a brilliant play on the tropes of the exorcist movie, subverting everything the audience expects whilst coming to a satisfactory, and bleak, conclusion. Blight is one of the shorts in The 100 Candles Game that I think could work as a feature – there’s both backstory and post-stinger parts of this tale that could be expanded on effectively.

And whilst I wasn’t feeling Drip for the most part, the final short in The 100 Candles Game, the sting in this films tale turned around the entire story – and in todays climate of people filming fights, police drama and everything else under the sun on their mobile phones that stinger couldn’t be more timely… especially give the societal uproar from high profile cases we’ve had in recent years. Some of the other shorts are more style over substance but that didn’t stop them being any more effective – making the whole ultimately much more than the sum of its parts.

The 100 Candles Game is released on DVD in the UK on September 27th, courtesy of Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.

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