11th June 2018 (VOD)
Sloane and her boyfriend Barrett return to her childhood home determined to ruin her father Roan's re-marriage. Family secrets surface and give rise to a puzzling future.
Megan Boone, Larry Bryggman, Alison Fraser
Meeting the parents of a new partner for the first time is a guaranteed nerve shredder – sure, you’ve wooed your love over the course of a few months with the usual fare of flowers, cards and emphatic albeit slightly desperate proclamations of your feelings but now you’ve got to do it all over again (in a much different way, of course) with the people most important to your other half.
In Family Games, it’s not acceptance that scheming Sloane (Megan Boone, The Blacklist) is looking for by bringing her new boyfriend Barrett back to her childhood home – she’s going there to avenge her deceased mother after her father Roan (Larry Bryggman, Die Hard with a Vengeance) announces his imminent marriage to a new woman, Kathryn (Alison Fraser, Happy!).
What Sloane wasn’t counting on, however, was her father’s readiness for her plans of sabotage. What follows is an intense relay of one-upmanship and an unhealthy dose of passive aggressiveness. The verbal jabs continue to escalate until a shocking revelation of a gut punch knocks the family on the ropes.
With its dialogue-driven drama and largely static sets, Family Games unfolds more akin to a theatre production than a feature film. First time director Suzuya Bobo instantly sets the uneasy tone in the opening frames, planting seeds of uncertainty and deception before the meeting between Sloan and her parents even takes place. The tension only rises from there as seemingly innocent conversations and activities, including a ‘bonding’ hunting trip between Barratt and Roan, always emerge as more than meets the eye.
What Bobo and co-writer James Kaelan do well too is make each character distinctly different. Sloan’s know-it-all nature and sharp tongue brilliantly counteracts Katheryn’s overly cheery disposition, while Roan’s blunt and forward approach to problem solving exacerbates Barrett’s understandably meek nature. It’s a melting pot of personalities that results in a more effective reveal as the film reaches its inevitable conclusion a swift 70 minutes after it begins.
Family Games is much like a round of Monopoly. To begin with, everyone is courteous enough with nervous laughter as players land on your property, but you know before long they’ll undercut you for their own gain. By the time the game reaches its pinnacle, the gauntlet is thrown down and the stakes become higher than ever, with reasoning goes out the window and the most ruthless of heads prevailing. The winner is usually the least suspecting player, but in hindsight their actions mean you should have seen it coming all along.
Family Games is out now on all major VOD platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Rakuten TV, Play, Microsoft, Sky Store, TalkTalk, Vubiquity, BT
Great character development
Its theatre-like unfolding works in its favour
Lean runtime means its never overstays its (un)welcome
The 'big' reveal could be guessed by more seasoned genre fans