On the eve of her father Roan’s (Larry Bryggman) wedding, Sloane (Megan Boone) takes her boyfriend Barrett (Derek Cecil) to the family home. Intending to break up Roan’s impending wedding to family friend Kathryn (Alison Fraser), Sloane is determined on avenging her late mother but very quickly the evening takes a turn she wasn’t expecting. As a family dinner gets underway and the wine starts flowing, secrets start to come out threatening to change everything forever.
Family Games is a tense drama from first-time writer/director Suzuya Bobo. The film is a relatively short affair, clocking in at 72 minutes, but every single second of it bubbles under with menace and tension. Sloane is aggrieved that her father is marrying another woman and feels that her mother has been all but forgotten. She’s never anything other than outright nasty to Kathryn, who for her part tries her hardest to be civil under very difficult circumstances.
Sloane thinks that Kathryn is an easier target than her father but she’s quickly proven wrong when the two enter into an argument and Kathryn reminds Sloane that she too has been through tragedy and heartbreak. From that point Sloane considers dropping her destructive plan but she quickly decides to press on with it once the family regroups for dinner. While Sloane is targeting Kathryn, Barrett (Derek Cecil) starts to dig his claws into Roan (Larry Bryggman) but the patriarch quickly sees through what the couple of trying to do.
The premise of Family Games is a solid one. Who hasn’t been at an uncomfortable family get together or harboured grudges that could easily cause rifts with their nearest and dearest? Granted that most people don’t behave the way that Sloane does but it’s fascinating to watch this family unravel over the film’s duration.
Megan Boone, best-known for her role as Liz Keen in The Blacklist, gives a performance unlike anything we’ve seen from her before. She delights in being cruel, sometimes literally dancing around her targets with a smile plastered across her face. Boone injects a real nasty and menacing streak into Sloane but she never forgets to give her a sympathetic edge. This role is very against type for her and that’s wonderful to see. She forges a believable chemistry with Derek Cecil (House of Cards) and during a scene where the two recount the first time they met, they are highly believable as manipulative people.
Larry Bryggman (Die Hard With A Vengeance), for the most part, plays it straight as Roan. It’s hinted at very early on that his relationship with Sloane isn’t all that great and as the film goes on, Bryggman brings out Roan’s anguish. He really excels during the film’s final act. The scene stealer though is Alison Fraser (Happy) who is desperately unnerving as Kathryn. When you first meet her she seems meek, mild and eager to please. She quickly shows a side to her character that catches even Sloane off guard and at times she’s just plain frightening.
Family Games is an intriguing and enjoyable darkly comedic drama. For me the end didn’t quite deliver the payoff I was expecting based on the build-up but it was satisfactory enough. The film lacks a little in pacing but the four central performances are really what it’s all about. Bobo brings out fantastic turns from her leads and the way they play off one another is what makes the film. I’d suggest that you give your time to this little-known film, as you may discover it’s a hidden gem.
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Cast: Megan Boone, Derek Cecil, Larry Bryggman, Alison Fraser Director: Suzuya Bobo Writers: Suzuya Bobo, James Kaelen Certificate: 12 Duration: 72 minutes Released by: The Movie Partnership Release date: 11th June 2018