Paintball (2009)

Paintball (2009)

There’s nothing like a brush with death to make you feel alive

A team of eight adrenaline junkies are taken into a remote forest for the ultimate game of paintball in Europe’s largest paintball sanctuary. When one of their team is shot and killed by a live round, the group suddenly realise that the stakes of their game have just risen as a mysterious masked paintballer sets out to kill them one-by-one.

 

Anyone who has ever been paintballing will know that it’s not the sort of sport for everyone. Some will love it and rise to the occasion, revelling in the chance to become a general for a day. Others will hate it and wish for the game to finish quickly. It’s the only chance that ‘ordinary’ people will ever get to being in some sort of combat situation. For those younger males who’ve grown up on Call of Duty and the like, you’ll love the chance to act it out for real. However if you have played it before and you’re not very good, you’ll find yourself being killed early on and sitting out the rest of the game, watching the commando-wannabes crawl and sprawl across the battlefield for hours at a time. It can be a great game to compete in but ultimately disappointing and frustrating if you get the chance to play. Paintball is exactly the same. It’s got the potential to be a great film but it isn’t and doesn’t even come close which is both unsatisfactory and frustrating.

Any successful horror film will have you care about the characters. I mean let’s face it if you don’t like someone you’re not going to be rooting for them to survive the situation. The best scripts are those which allow the characters to get a bit of empathy from the viewer. So it’s to Paintball‘s detriment that this bunch of characters are so badly written and presented that you’ll not care who lives and who dies. The closest we get to knowing anything about them is the brief sequence on the jeep at the beginning where each person introduces themselves by name. That’s about it for characterisation because once the paintball game gets underway they all run around with the same combat attire and with their faces covered by masks. Pay close attention to the beginning because once names are thrown around during the commotion, it’s hard to remember who is who.

The acting is atrocious too and consists purely of the group shouting, screaming, swearing a lot and running around in the forest. It seems that every actor here has some form of accent. Maybe it was to distinguish who is who but the accents really get in the way of any form of characterisation. If one of them spoke differently, we’d at least be able to remember them. Since everyone has them, it’s a waste of time. The characters are so interchangeable that it doesn’t really matter who gets killed off because none of them have a redeeming factor. The game of paintball requires teamwork and the characters here all want the chance to live out some form of survivalist fantasy. So when their fantasy becomes reality and the situation becomes a matter of life and death, the film doesn’t really do anything with it. They still run around as if they’re playing the game, barking out orders to each other and

I don’t actually recall the camera lens staying still through the entire film. It’s always on the move and there are some weird angles at times. Two characters are about to have a knife fight yet the camera lingers on their midsections as opposed to whole body shots. It’s quite unsettling on the eyes and it gets frustrating to see the camera shaking and twisting every minute. Stay still and let me have a look at what’s going on! Handheld cameras can have their use but not for an entire film – it’s just too frenetic.

The constant use of the thermal vision goggles by the killer was a nice touch too as you see a lot of the film from a first-person perspective. I thought it would be overworked but it’s more effective as the film goes on. Forget the film being overly bloody because most of the kills happen through the first-person vision of these goggles so it’s just white liquid spurting across the screen. This effect doesn’t actually disguise the brutality of some of the death scenes, it just gives them all a unique spin. It’s a neat touch especially during one scene where one unlucky victim is pummelled by a rifle butt. It adds a pleasing visual style to the proceedings and is arguably the highlight of the film. These thermal vision moments also contribute to the unveiling of the big plot twist. Borrowing it from Hostel doesn’t help matters although I suppose it makes sense and the way it’s revealed to the viewer is pretty good.

 

Paintball has got some great visuals and odd moments of inspired genius so it’s a pity that the script lets it down in a big way with really weak characters and a complete lack of tension and atmosphere. For paintball purists only but even then you’d rather be playing it than watching it.

 

 ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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