When a new detective is caught by a vicious psychopath and locked in a basement, he must use the knowledge he learned from some of the best detectives at Poker Night, then match wits against his captor.
When you become a detective in Warsaw Indiana - you go to Poker Night, where you play against some of the best cops in the business. They tell you stories about their time on the job - their successes and failures. When new Detective Stan Jeter leaves the game, he is caught by a vicious psychopath and locked in a basement. Using the stories he heard at Poker Night, he must match wits against his captor - and save not only himself, but the young girl trapped in the basement with him. Like Seven and Usual Suspect, Poker Night combines thrills and twists and turns that will leave you guessing till the very end.Written by
Worth watching just for the scene of a masked serial killer at work in his cubicle (yes, wearing the mask)
Yes, what I mentioned in the my title is true. As far as I know in the history of cinema, there has never been a scene of a vicious, bloody serial killer wearing his grotesque mask while he goes to the office and sits in his cubicle with all the other 9-5 schleps. So, love it or hate it, ya gotta give this film props for that.
"Poker Night" blends horror, crime, comedy and surrealism to bring us a wild ride like I haven't seen since the Christopher Walken masterpiece "Suicide Kings" (a flick you need to watch asap if you haven't already). This film takes a very similar approach, so similar that I had to check if the director of Poker Night also directed Suicide Kings but he did not. Both films are extremely non-linear, meaning they jump back & forth in time, from different perspectives, telling different stories which all come together in the end. Well sort of. Therein lies my only criticism, but first let's talk about the good.
This film is a standard serial killer cat-and-mouse game, much like Saw, but it throws in a concurrent flashback to a cops' poker night where they are each telling stories of their careers. The stories relate to the main character's predicament as he's trying to outwit the killer. At the same time we're all trying to piece together who the killer is and what is the motivation behind all of this. It's definitely a film that you need to pay attention to, otherwise you might get lost in all the interweaving episodes & flashbacks, especially when they get surreal and the main character gets superimposed in the stories being told by others.
It's also a very dark film, literally dark, where we are intentionally not shown what's happening until the end of a scene. The director took a gamble on whether this would be suspenseful or annoying, and my opinion is that it worked. Others may not agree.
Another gamble was that hilarious serial killer fantasy I mentioned at the beginning. If I haven't been clear enough, I LOVED IT. That playful approach was exactly what was needed to break up the tension and disturbing nature of the story.
Ok now the bad. The film frequently crosses over into unbelievable territory, as in people getting shot multiple times or mutilated in violent ways but they still get up and manage to pull off an action packed fight scene. There's one scene in particular where a character basically gets half his skin ripped off, but 5 minutes later it's barely a scratch. Maybe they threw in stuff like that to keep the audience awake, but at the risk of boring people they should've kept things more realistic all the way through. Also in the last 20 minutes there are several crazy plot leaps crammed together for the sake of giving us a bunch of twists, and I felt that these also undermined the core strength of the film which was a slow battle of wits. But those are really minor nitpicks which shouldn't dissuade you from checking out this movie.
If you enjoy non-linear, flashback-based, bizarre & quirky crime thrillers such as "Pulp Fiction", "Reservoir Dogs" or the aforementioned "Suicide Kings" then definitely give this a go. Also if, like me, you are interested in this film only because the amazing Ron Perlman is in it, then you won't be disappointed. Although he's a somewhat minor character, his scenes are fantastic and easily raise the calibre of the film a few notches.
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