“All Fun and Games” (2023), directed by Ari Costa and Eren Celeboglu, presents itself as a potential addition to the horror genre. However, it unfortunately falls short of expectations. Despite a talented cast, including Asa Butterfield and Natalia Dyer, and being produced by the Russo Brothers’ Gozie AGBO, the film struggles to transcend its generic premise and outdated horror tropes.
Table of Contents
Plot and Premise(3/5)
Set in Salem, Massachusetts, the film centers around three siblings: Billie (Natalia Dyer), Marcus (Asa Butterfield), and Jo (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth). With their mother working the night shift and their father gone, they are left to their own devices. However, their story takes a captivating turn when Jo stumbles upon a mysterious knife and journal in a decrepit house. As Jo delves into the journal’s secrets, a malevolent force seizes control, compelling him to involve his siblings and others in a series of deadly games.
Production and Direction(4/5)
“All Fun and Games” represents the directorial debut of Ari Costa and Eren Celeboglu, both of whom have prior experience in short films and various roles in larger productions. However, despite their potential, the film’s direction fails to elevate the material. The pacing feels rushed, characterized by abrupt cuts and questionable editing choices that often detract from the intended atmosphere and tension. Clocking in at a mere 69 minutes (excluding credits), the inconsistent pacing leaves the audience with a lingering sense that the story may have been truncated or reworked.
The cast, featuring Asa Butterfield and Natalia Dyer, delivers commendable performances despite the limitations of the material. Regrettably, their efforts are hindered by the shallow and clichéd nature of their characters. Asa Butterfield, in particular, is tasked with portraying the film’s primary antagonist, but his character’s voice feels like a clumsy imitation of more distinguished horror performances. It is evident that the actors give their all to make the most of the generic roles they are assigned, but the lack of depth in character development restricts their ability to truly shine.
“All Fun and Games” heavily relies on the overused “cursed object” trope, much like Anton’s “Choose or Die” from the previous year. Regrettably, it brings nothing new or innovative to the table. The film resorts to predictable jump scares involving excessive screaming and exaggerated laughter, reminiscent of horror films from the late ’90s and early 2000s that prioritized style over substance. These scares feel outdated and ineffective, failing to create genuine tension or evoke fear.
“All Fun and Games” struggles to distinguish itself in the crowded horror genre. It falls victim to clichéd storytelling, uninspired direction, and a lack of originality in its horror elements. While the cast does their best with the material provided, the underdeveloped characters and poorly executed scares hinder their efforts. Ultimately, the film ends up feeling like a forgettable entry in the world of horror cinema, destined to be lost among a sea of mediocrity on streaming services. If you’re in the mood for an Anton-produced horror film, you may be better off revisiting “Choose or Die” for some unintentional humor.
In conclusion, “All Fun and Games” fails to deliver the thrills and chills expected from a horror film, making it a lackluster addition to the genre. With its clichés, outdated tropes, and lack of originality, it fails to leave a lasting impression. For horror fans looking for something new and exciting, this film is best left avoided. However, if you’re in the mood for some unintentional comedy from Asa Butterfield‘s awkwardly delivered lines, then you may find something to enjoy. Just don’t expect too much.
That being said, the film does provide a few moments of entertainment for those willing to overlook its flaws. The production value is quite high and the cast of veteran actors proves that they can bring some life to even the most generic roles. With this in mind, it’s likely that “All Fun and Games” may find its place as a cult classic among horror fans. Regardless, it’s a far cry from the genre-defining work of Ari Costa and Eren Celeboglu that we had hoped to see.