Ryan Gielen directs Blake Merriman in "Drinking Games," an uncomfortable thriller about college students who have waited to leave for the holiday break so they can participate in the great Snowmageddon party. It's kind of a pub crawl, but in a dorm.
Merriman wrote the play and then the screenplay the film is based on. He also plays Richard, a young man who is seemingly the only normal person in a cast of off-beat characters.
Noopie, (Rob Bradford), who is also an executive producer, is probably one of the creepiest characters I've seen on screen in a long time.
The film revolves around the dorm room of Richard and long time best friend Shawn. Much like a play would be, the room is static and the characters move in and out of it.
Noobie, who is older than the other kids, has spent the day asleep on the floor of the dorm room. He sleeps through everything and only awakes at nighttime when everyone else has left the room for a while. He kind of raises out of sleep and off the floor like a vampire whose feeding time has arrived.
Poor Richard has been trying to write a paper all day and now most of the night for his last class. He is the solid, responsible one who is much different from Shawn. Shawn wants to spread his wings and fly and ... lose his virginity.
Enter into this room, Richard's crush Melanie. She is a disturbed young lady who has been made a bit more disturbed by the treatment she received from Richard after they slept together. He tells her he is not coming back to college. She is devastated and becomes vulnerable to Noobie's dubious charms.
Erin also comes and goes from the room, equally as vulnerable to Noobie, she is unsure of herself in general, but Shawn has a huge crush on her which Noobie just ignores for his own entertainment.
Noobie takes these characters and moves them around like chess pieces on a chess board. He controls what happens. He does whatever the hell he wants, even if it means possibly hurting or killing someone. It is Noobie who brings the huge baggie of coke into the room and then almost (or does) kill his 'pledge' Mickie with the drug and a lot of booze. Noobie also finds it entertaining to slip people roofies and then has more control over them.
The film comes to a crescendo when Noobie is at his vilest.
It's the last night of the fall semester, and all over campus parties are raging. While alcohol flows, Richard and Shawn argue over what to do with Noopie, the mysterious upperclassman passed out on their floor. After a blizzard seals them in the dorm with a handful of hapless friends, Noopie awakes and uses a mix of drugs, booze and sex to manipulate the group to their physical and emotional breaking points over the longest, most dangerous night of their young lives. Will it be their last?
This film is billed as a thriller and it certainly is. However, it also has several other things going on, several mysteries. There are at least two love stories. There is also the horror that is Noobie. Since he never arrives on the scene, but is there from start, he is almost a ghost in the room. He is never out of the room even when his physical body is. His bad energy enslaves everybody. Once more the vampire scenario arrives. He's an energy vampire and no one is immune.
This film is disconcerting. It makes the viewer feel 'off' somehow. The dorm room feels dirty, gross and claustrophobic even when it's empty. It's one of the characters of the film the same as Richard and Noobie are.
The actors themselves are wonderful, especially Bradford who plays Noobie for all he's worth.
If Hitchcock were alive today and of the ages of these kids, he would have written and directed this film. This is one of the reasons you should see "Drinking Games."
Available today, Aug. 20, 2013 on DVD and VOD
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