Director Ann Forry’s Canadian horror/thriller Shall We Play? is truly the “kitchen sink” of scary movies. Despite being 85 minutes, the film is a convoluted mix of horror sub-genres, plotlines and allusions to other movies. It’s a bullying, possession horror psychological thriller that owes its DNA to The Exorcist, The Ring, and oddly Jumanji. And there’s a hint of Black Mirror thrown in for good measure.
Stacy (Matreya Scarrwener) has a history of trauma and experiences haunting visions. And she somehow decides to use a ouija-inspired mobile app at the behest of her friend Jess (Jessica McLeod) which leads to spooky happenings.
I was somewhat engaged with this movie for its first half. There were some decent creeps and I was curious as to where the story was going. Once it got more intense towards the climax however, I found it rather silly.
There’s an absolutely captivating lead performance by Scarrwener and a strong outing for Stacy’s best friend Emma (Michelle Creber). Otherwise, I found most of the acting to be borderline comical, though I will chalk much of that up to a problematic screenplay. For example, one character is inconsolable after someone gives them horrible news. Then, another character broaches the situation with “what’s up?”.
The editing was also a huge issue for me. It’s hyper-frenetic, coming across as though the editor worked on it with an iMovie horror trailer template.
Further, the film has a number of logic problems, the most egregious of which being Stacy constantly wondering why her “friend” Jess isn’t at her (Stacy’s) side. That’s despite the fact that Jess consistently proves that she’s a horrible, mean-spirited person.
Shall We Play? does have a couple creepy moments and strong performances, but overall it’s a hodgepodge of other, better films that never finds its own identity.