Review: POKER NIGHT
Hitting hard and refusing to let go for even a single second, the Greg Francis-helmed POKER NIGHT does what most horror/mystery films strive to do: keep its audience engaged. Told through flashbacks mixed with a present day mystery, the film is a rare gem, one that boasts an ensemble cast that, together, shows you what bringing your A-game means.
POKER NIGHT begins as Jeter, a celebrated young detective, is welcomed to “Poker Night”, a regular meeting in which all of the best detectives bring a rookie detective into their circle and tell him stories that might help him down the road. That comes in handy, when after leaving the gathering, Jeter (played by Beau Mirchoff) is abducted and put into a game of sorts by a masked man bent on exacting revenge on the young detective. As the masked man begins torturing the young detective, the stories told to him by his fellow detectives (all played excellently by Ron Perlman, Giancarlo Esposito, Ron Eldard, Titus Welliver and Corey large) all come in handy as small details of each one help him realize what he must do to get out alive.
While the setup and even the trailer might seem like a SAW-ripoff, POKER NIGHT does quite an excellent job standing on its own, and giving its audience one hell of a mystery that leaves you guessing and speculating right up until its phenomenal finale. Mirchoff does a great job as Jeter, a detective that became a hero just out of good luck, and has to go through absolute hell to not only escape, but to figure out who the masked man is. It’s a film that is packed with secrets, and one that never feels like a standard horror film. Its tone falls more into the mystery/thriller arena and that’s fine by me, because it’s a damned good entry into that subgenre. The excellent ensemble all carry their own (as expected) and as a fan of most of the work done be each actor, it’s a film lover’s dream seeing the poker night detectives in the same film, as each of them are all excellent and well written characters.
The standout in the film, even with such great actors inhabiting it, is THE DIVIDE‘s Michael Eklund, an actor that continues to impress, with each film he does. An excellent character actor, Eklund’s performance adds yet another great layer to an already entertaining film. It’s so easy to be enthralled by Eklund’s performances in every film he does, his style is a rare one, and POKER NIGHT utilizes that talent to its fullest.
Full of continuous twists and turns, the film is a must see for mystery fans, as it gives its audience one hell of a game to play. If writer/director Greg Francis has this strong of a film as his debut, then he’s a talent that needs to be followed, as the script, and the performances from the script really shine, and the sometimes very frenetic style of direction is a welcomed addition, it works wonders for the film. I wouldn’t waste your time renting this one on Redbox, do yourselves a bigger favor and head to your nearest Best Buy or Walmart and BUY this one, because you’ll be thanking yourself for doing so.