Netflix's most underrated horror movie deserves another chance
This bone-chilling movie puts a digital spin on horror.
Netflix is the definition of being "spoiled for choice." Sometimes a show hyped via autoplay ads in every corner of the internet for weeks on end, or is prominently featured in the streaming platform's top ten. However, some true gems can languish in obscurity as a result of all those options. If you're a fan of horror movies, you shouldn't miss this nuanced Indian psychological thriller that's.
Game Over is a 2019 horror movie that was added to Netflix almost exactly a year ago on July 21, 2019. It follows a young game designer named Swapna who lives with her housekeeper Kallamma in a huge empty house. Over the course of the film, the anniversary of her rape a year ago approaches and she deals with the PTSD surrounding the event, as well as supernatural powers and a serial killer to boot.
The opening of the film is pretty classic horror movie: what's a slasher without the death of a young woman to kick things off. But after the first five minutes, there's no indication of anything creepy. Instead, the tone shifts entirely to one of a heartfelt drama, the story of one woman dealing with her own trauma and realizing she indirectly carries the trauma of others.
While playing Pac-Man, Swapna's tattoo, an 8-bit heart on her wrist, starts burning. After revisiting the tattoo parlor, they inform her that mistakenly, her tattoo was done with ink mixed with the ashen remains of a young woman who was murdered – the young woman from the first scene.
Surely, that would be enough for this movie to go for the horror, but instead, it sits in its own nuance, slowly amping up the fear until almost exactly the one hour mark: it's at this point when Swapna, now using a wheelchair due to an injury, finds the killer from the first scene after her, and now she has three tattoos on her wrist: each heart representing a "life," just like in the games she played.
This about-face loses nothing in quality: just as the first half was a well-crafted dramatic story, the last half is an equally compelling horror movie with a time loop twist, using point of view shots in a way that made me hold my breath out of fear. The ending pays off both halves equally well, paying off both the home intruder horror and the trauma-fueled drama.
The only downsides to this movie are in the details. Firstly, there are three different versions of Game Over on Netflix: the Tamil and Telugu versions were filmed simultaneously, and a Hindi version was dubbed later. For English speaking viewers, this doesn't matter much, and a lot of the dialogue in every version is already in English, but it can still be confusing.
The other downside is the production design: it's difficult to believe this character is a gamer when she just has a normal house with figures and posters from BoxLunch strewn about. An "Eat Sleep Game Repeat" sign feels like something a 14-year-old would have, not an industry professional. Luckily, the other details make up for this, especially the luscious score, a haunting mix of synth and strings that carries an eerie vibe throughout the intentionally slow pace.
The script will leave you gasping, the reincorporation is subtle and leaves twists unpredictable, and the depiction of "anniversary trauma," PTSD faced around the anniversary of the traumatic event, is realistic and expertly shown. It's that perfect balance of scares and emotion, scary enough for the horror fan, but not to the point where the uninitiated cannot enjoy it. It's the perfect horror streaming movie, especially now we're all stuck indoors.