In This Game’s Called Murder, director/writer/producer Adam Sherman brings viewers on a wild journey with the eccentric Wallendorf family. Mr. Wallendorf (Ron Perlman) is a fashion mogul who makes exactly one type of shoe: red high heels. Mrs. Wallendorf (Natasha Henstridge) is his conniving wife with a few tricks up her sleeve. Their daughter, Jennifer (Vanessa Marano), is a social media pro trying to find her own purpose in life. As they family attempts to maintain their public image, they soon begin to fall apart.
Almost instantly, Sherman sets the stage for what’s to come. The opening scene not only establishes the general tone, but it also gives viewers a sense of how people view the Wallendorfs. It also introduces the movie’s overall aesthetic, which is one of the strongest qualities. The movie’s landscape contains vibrant scenes that contrast nicely with the darker, more muted ones. The use of red in particular is bold and eye-catching. An aurally pleasing soundtrack complements the visuals.
One character who stands out is Jennifer. Of all the characters, she holds the clearest arc. When viewers meet her, they quickly get a sense of the heartache she tries to mask, present through her dialogue. As the movie progresses, her personality continues to unravel. She’s not just a girl trapped in a toxic family. She’s learned to create her own name via social media and adapt to her surroundings (though not in an ideal manner). While the movie follows all three Wallendorfs, Jennifer fills its center.
Marano brings a solid performance as Jennifer. She demonstrates each major facet of the character in a way that fits within the story. However, she ensures Jennifer carries her own singular traits. Her performance also complements Perlman’s and Henstridge’s, completing the dysfunctional Wallendorf triangle.
One other aspect that intrigues me is the red shoes. It’s no secret the Wallendorfs hold influence over society. And Mr. Wallendorf’s decision to sell red high heels plays into that. Eventually, viewers learn some of the real motive behind the shoes. But the way the shoes are lauded made me want to know every single detail about Mr. Wallendorf’s decision to produce them and refuse to deviate from that.
While the movie has its ups, it also has its downs. Despite the enticing aesthetic and solid main cast, it still feels disjointed at times. The Wallendorf threads do connect by the third act. However, they sometimes got a little lost along the way. Additionally, while the secondary characters did serve a purpose, I found that I wasn’t necessarily attached to them. I would’ve liked to learn a little more deeply about some of them. Regardless, This Game’s Called Murder offers a unique story. It’s bizarre nature hooks viewers. Sherman also provides commentary about modern society without bogging down the story. He keeps viewers intrigued enough to stay with the movie until the credits roll.
This Game’s Called Murder is out now in theaters and On Demand. Find tickets and digital watch links here. Stay tuned for our interview with Adam Sherman, Vanessa Marano, and Natasha Henstridge! Watch the trailer below.