Movie Review: Poker Night (2014)

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Directed and written by Greg Francis, Poker Night is a 2014 thriller/horror(ish) film. When rookie cop Stan Jeter (Beau Mirchoff) is captured by a masked assailant, he must use the stories told by his senior officers at their poker games to survive. Because that’s the whole point of Poker Night; you listen, you learn, and you go and do the same. Hopefully it will save your life.

+ the surprisingly high profile supporting cast, including Ron Perlman, Giancarlo Esposito and Titus Welliver, were all fantastic – I’d almost say their flashback segments are more interesting than the main plot of the film. Similarly, the times where the masked antagonist is explaining his backstory are bright, stylised scenes, juxtaposed with the gruesome story
+ the film’s flashbacks are sort of ‘choose your own adventure’ segments; the action reflects the shit-talking the older cops are doing, and the way they would handle each case. It is an interesting way for the film to show Jeter’s imagining of the situations
+ the antagonist is actually quite unsettling. The mask – somewhere between The Collector and Batman Begins‘ Scarecrow – coupled with the fancy clothes make it so much scarier than it would be separately

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Something about suits and ties is almost as scary as bloodied overalls.

– Mirchoff as Stan Jeter is comparatively very bland. Whether this was intentional (a sort of “seasoned veterans” versus “coddled youth” situation) or not, it just makes the scenes with the older cops more enthralling than the main story
– speaking of the main story, it’s pretty standard stuff, with some twists and turns thrown in, but an ultimately very unsatisfying ending. An unsatisfying ending does contrast nicely to the old cops’ stories, but it is still frustrating to sit through a hour-forty minute film with little to no closure

> Beau Mirchoff kept reminding me of some unholy mixture of Zac Efron and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Depending on the light, he looked like either. It was weird.

Should you see this film: This was an interesting film. It defies lots of story telling cliches, but it’s unique offerings don’t always land like I think it was intended. Give it a single viewing, just to get the stories from the old guard, but don’t waste too much time trying to get your mates to watch it, or you’ll all feel let down.

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