Nemesis Game
directed by Jesse Warn
(Lions Gate, 2003)

Personally, I hate riddles -- but the characters in this movie certainly love them. College student Sara Novak (Carly Pope) spends her nights wandering through seedy parts of town trying to solve riddles/puzzles assigned to her by her own little riddle guru, comic-book store owner Vern (Adrian Paul). It's all fun and games of course (well, games, anyway -- I can't say any of it was fun) until someone gets hurt (or violently murdered). It turns out that there's a much bigger game in town, one that promises enlightenment to whoever makes his or her way to the end. Ultimate insight into the Design is not easily won, however -- this is a most dangerous game.

Vern is none too happy to discover that Sara has started playing the Nemesis game, ostensibly because players either end up dead or stark raving mad (even the winners). If ever there were a game where nobody really wins, it's this one. As if the whole concept of the Nemesis game isn't bad enough, watching Sara and Vern go about their riddle-obsessed lives is torturously boring. The only halfway interesting person in the entire film is one of Sara's classmates who (for reasons I can't fathom) actually finds the young lady mysterious and intriguing, to the point that he is determined to find out what she does at night -- the poor dope apparently has no life whatsoever.

Maybe this film is meant to serve as a larger metaphor for life -- or maybe there's no meaning whatsoever to take away from it. Personally, I'm going with the latter choice. With its depressing atmosphere, uninteresting characters, convoluted plot, rather flimsy premise (to my way of thinking), and hackneyed ending, Nemesis Game never succeeded at pulling me in to its cinematic world. Some may find it to be an interesting, thinking person's film, but I found the whole experience pretentious at best. Even if you're one of the lucky ones who actually find something stimulating in this whole ordeal, the ending is likely to leave you feeling cheated.

I really don't think your average horror fan is going to enjoy Nemesis Game very much at all; this is really much more of a psychological suspense thriller (with very little suspense and almost no thrills).

review by
Daniel Jolley

11 September 2010

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