The Murder Game: An Independent Horror Film
This website was originally created to promote the 2006 independent horror film, The Murder Game. The content below is from its archived pages and other outside resources.
A group of teenagers invent a game in which one of them is secretly chosen to be a "killer," while the others remain innocent victims. Armed with prop weapons, the "killer" must eliminate the other players before being found out. To enhance their experience, the teens sneak into a large self-storage warehouse during its closed, late-night hours to hold their game. At first, it's better than ever. But, things take a shocking turn as one by one, the players begin dying...for real
The Murder Game premiered May 3, 2006 at the historic Senator Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland. I'm aware of an inside story that you might find interesting regarding this film. The producers raised some of the money to support the film by taking advantage of product placement fees. One such fee was intended to promote a Batman movie by having the actors wear a particular Batman T shirt in some of the most scary scenes. So the presence of the Batman T in that storeroom where everyone eventually dies would have raised a good amount of the money needed to shoot the film. But the producers were concerned that they were possibly promoting a Batman film instead of their main project so they backed out. However, the actors actually loved the cool Batman T shirts and convinced the producers to let them wear them anyway. No money was exchanged, and the scenes with the Batman shirts were dark enough so that there was no concern about Batman taking over the scenes. Funny how this turned out, and every time I've seen The Murder Game, I'm totally aware of the Batman Ts, but the rest of the audience and the actors are in the dark (literally). Recently I discovered that the domain for the murdergamemovie.com was available, and because of my inside knowledge of the Batman saga I bought it with the goal of recreating some of its content from archived pages and supplementing other sourced content if necessary. I definitely didn't want someone else purchasing the domain and re-purposing it for something that had nothing in common with the original movie.
So here is my homage to The Murder Game. "Wanna Play?"
Initial release: May 3, 2006
87 minutes, Not rated
Director: Robert Harari
Produced by: Robert Harari
Written by: Robert Harari and Jason Contino
Cast: Katie Sirk, Steve Polites, Ariana Almajan, Cheryl Scungio, More
Distributed by: Warner Bros., Lightyear Entertainment
Review from Horror Talk
Somewhere in the vast open spaces of American suburbia, a bunch of bored teenagers found a new way to kill time — "the murder game". Essentially, it's a slightly more twisted variety of "hide & seek"; everyone draws a card, queen of Spades is "the killer", and his task is to off everyone. Not so surprisingly, this form of entertainment runs into some objection from the parental crowd, so soon enough the kids are stuck without their favourite pastime.
That is, until Eric, who seems to have a particular liking for the game, decides to stage an all-night bonanza of make-believe murder at a large self-storage warehouse. The gang is initially reluctant, but they all agree in the end. Initially, it seems to be a proper blast and a night's worth of sheer fun. Until, in the best slasher tradition, people start really dropping dead, and we have a problem...
The Indie industry keeps getting better. I will spare you from yet another introductory rant in which I bemoan the fact that every bozo with enough cash to buy a DV cam is suddenly a horror director — instead, I will simply tell you that The Murder Game is the most accomplished independent effort to yet land in my mailbox. Obviously not satisfied by just putting out his name in the rental shelves, director Robert Harari patched together an impressive effort here — The Murder Game looks, acts, feels and smells like a genuine motion picture, and not some backyard "dude, let's make a scary movie !!!111" mishmash.
While I'm not much for the slashers, this film kept me reasonably entertained throughout, and sitting through the 90 minutes of its running time wasn't much of a chore (high praise this, coming from me). Harari, this being his first feature length, and Jason Contino, serving here as the co-producer and the director of photography, set the tone by making their effort looking rather polished. Indiehounds looking for shoddy direction, chop-hack editing and amateurish props need not look here, for The Murder Game is almost spotless in those departments. Special props are reserved for Contino, who very seldomly lets us know that this, actually, is a shot-on-DV venture, thanks to some clever and efficient lighting and many, for this level of play, inventive setups. Editing, courtesy of Harari and David A. Cross, is also major league work. The FX folks fill in the gaps by providing us with some rather realistic murder set-pieces — couple of stabs, slashes and even a beheading are all to be observed within the running time.
The actors have been kind enough to follow suit. Steve Polites, Katie Sirk and Samuel Klein lead the nine-piece ensemble cast, which acquits itself solidly. Most of the choice cuts belong to the lead trio (Klein looks like a dead ringer for Ian Astbury, better known as the lead vocalist for "The Cult"), but there is some spark in the support as well — I enjoyed Julia Pickens as Lucy, the Ripley-esque female part, and Vince Eustace and Erik Soulliard are fun as a couple of stoners. While Ariana Almajan and Christina Marchand look good, they are the token "omigosh we're gonna get KILLLLLLLLED!!!!" horror film characters, and as such there is not really enough of meat to their parts. Similarily, Max Hambleton is a glorified bit part himself. Still, even them are less irritating (if at all) when compared to the usual bill of fares.
Plot, while basic, works good. In its essence, this is a simple film and the director, seemingly of his own volition, kept it simple, opting to go the classic slasher route with a twist towards the ending, which was also interestingly handled. The lack of pompousness definitely aids the overall cause, which is a refreshing change from the usual "look at us, we're horror stars" shtick. There are also two nods to contemporary horror I enjoyed. First, there is a scene in which Klein's character refutes the theories that the killer is out for them for some reason, simply stating that he's probably just crazy without strings attached. With this, I felt Harari took a shot at the recent trend of horror pictures in which every psycho has to have a motive behind him (see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning or Rob Zombie's Halloween), and pleaded for a return of plain "psycho" psychotics. Another nod is towards the very end, but I won't reveal it in its entireness as it would spoil the finale — I'll just say it has something to do with a Stephen King novel which was successfully filmed in the '70s.
There is not many things which hamper this film, but they should be noted as well. First of all, Harari and Contino essentially pulled a Bull Durham on us by casting a bunch of twenty-somethings as high school kids. This, obviously, can be forgiven as it is conceivably due to the fact this was a labour of love project, so with real budget and funds they would probably manage this the right way. Other weak spot is the occasional shot of the warehouse from the outside with ominous thunderstorm raging around — quite frankly, it looks like they just propped up a LEGO construction and toyed with some CGI for the storm. The insertion of it just looks amateurish, and should have been left on the cutting floor, or better yet, in Harari's head, filed under "maybe this ain't such a great idea".
So what's next for Harari, Contino and the rest of 500 Pieces production co.? No clue, but judging from this, it could be promising. Bring it on, minus the intermezzo outside thunderstorm shots though.
Production Status: More Production Photos
Check out Katie and Vince and other members of the cast and crew.
Production Status: Check out the Murder Game Forum!
Murder Game now has it's own forum. So have at us...I mean...it!
Murder Game Forum
Production Status: Even More Stills to Thrill and Amaze
Two more photo galleries to see!
Production Status: Some New Stills From The Shoot
Check out these two photo galleries from our main location.
Production Status: The Trailer is UP!
The trailer is now posted and ready to view. We have Windows Media and QuickTime in high resolution and low resolution for all you 56K modem people. So get to the trailer page and check it out!
Production Status: Update
Keep an eye on the site! A teaser trailer is coming soon!
Also, check these pics.
Production Status: Stills From Main Location Shoot
Check out these two photo galleries from our main location shoot.
Production Status: Main Location Wrapped
Shooting has now wrapped for our main location. We will be shooting our
exteriors and opening sequences in the spring. Photos from the set will
be up shortly.
Production Status: First special effects day
Last night marked the first effects day. Our effects man Maz did an
amazing job bringing our warped visions to reality and we are looking
forward to three more days of bloody mayhem.
Production Status: Shooting has begun
Last night was the first night of principal photography. We had a lot of
pages to cover and our cast and crew did a great job getting things done.
One down, eleven more to go!
Production Status: Shooting begins in one week
We officially start shooting one week from today. Keep checking here for status reports, production photos, and all the gossip that is fit to print.
Production Status: Stills From Rehearsal
New photos of our cast and crew during our latest rehearsals.
Production Status: Stills From Rehearsal
Here are some behind the scenes photos of our cast and crew during our latest rehearsals.
Production Status: Rehearsals Have Begun
Rehearsals have begun and are going great. We couldn't be happier with the cast and they are truly bringing their characters to life...and death! The crew is now forming, and tech scouts will begin in the next few weeks.
Production Status: Casting Closed
The Murder Game is now officially cast. Our actors headshots and blurbs will be appearing shortly on the cast and crew section of the site so go check them out. Thank you to everyone we saw, we had an amazing turnout. Now let the rehearsals begin!
Production Status: Still Casting
We are still casting "The Murder Game". We are looking for non-union talent that look high school age. If you are interested in our upcomming auditions on Thursday September 16th and Friday September 17th, please email us a headshot and resume. These aren't open calls, they are by appointment only. Send your information to email@example.com
Production Status: Casting
The script is locked and we are currently engaging in multiple casting calls in Baltimore, Maryland and the surrounding areas. Call backs are underway, but none of the roles have been officially cast as of yet.
Steve Polites as Eric
Katie Sirk as Trish
Samuel Klein as Colin
Julia Pickens as Lucy
Christina Marchano as Sarah
Ariana Almajan as Carrie
Vince Eustace as Will
Erik Solliard as Dexter
Max Hambleton as Donny
Sarah - Christina Marchand
Christina Marchand is a seasoned actress who was born and raised in the Boston area. A professional model for 10 years, she has graced the pages of magazines like Cosmopolitan and starred in many commercials and film shorts. Christina is very excited to bring the role of Sarah to life and hopes that this project will be her big break. To view Christina's online portfolio and credits, visit her website atwww.christinamarchand.exploretalent.com
Eric - Steve Polites
Steve is from Baltimore, MD and is currently studying Theatre at Towson University. As for The Murder Game, he is excited to be working on his first film. Let the heads, I mean good times roll.
Carrie - Ariana Almajan
Ariana Almajan is from California but currently resides in Washington, DC. Her resume includes roles in feature films, independent shorts, television, and local theater. She is very happy to be a part of this project!
Collin - Samuel Klein
Samuel Klein is an up-and-coming actor hailing from the Garden State--New Jersey. He has worked on two other independent films, as well as several shorts, a music video, & an episode of WCW Nitro. In addition, he has multiple theatre credits to his name. So, what motivates Samuel Klein? "I've always wanted to be an actor; the idea of entertaining & enthralling an audience is what drives me." Any thoughts or advice for other up-and-comers? He remarks wistfully, "My advice is best absorbed through my favorite quote: Always shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you'll still be among the stars." You can view Samuel's headshots & resume atwww.greerlange.com/samuelklein
Trish - Katie Sirk
My name is Katie Sirk, I'm 18 years old, and was born and raised in Maryland. I've acted since I was 9 years old, but can't wait to start with this project because it's the first big gig I've had.
Donny - Max Hambleton
Max Hambleton is very excited to be a part of such a great project as The Murder Game. While his career in acting began in the theatre, it has moved more and more into film and television. Other screen credits include "Boner", "Threads", and "The Wire". Max would like to thank his family and especially his grandfather T. Edward Hambleton.
Lucy - Julia Pickens
Julia is a native of LaPlata, Maryland, and is currently an acting major at Towson University. She has worked in school, community theater, and on Towson University's television station. She is very excited about her first film experience. She'd like to thank her beloved cat, The Dude, for all of his meows.
Will - Vince Eustace
Vince is a native of Baltimore and currently studying theater at Towson University. As a young lad, he had but one career aspiration: National Basketball Association superstar. Due to his inability to play offense, defense (man to man or zone) or shoot free throws, his coach decided that basketball was not the path for young Vince, but perhaps his quirky antics on the bench and lockerroom would translate well into acting. It hasn't, but that hasn't stopped The Murder Game team for giving him this
opportunity. For that, he is thankful.
Dexter - Erik Soulliard
Over the past four years Erik Soulliard has been building his film credits with strong supporting and lead roles in independent and student films. Erik is excited about working with the creative team behind The Murder Game and is looking forward to bringing the character of Dexter to life on the big screen. You can view Erik's resume, clips from his reel, and additional photos on his website at www.eriksoulliard.com
The Major - Jay Stine
Bio and Headshot Coming Soon
Robert Harari - Director, Writer, Producer
Robert Harari was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1976. After taking community college courses that seemed to lead nowhere, he decided to chase down his dream and become a filmmaker. At Towson University, he learned the ropes, collaborated with other students on a handful of films and eventually got mixed up with the likes of Jason Contino. Since the teaming, Rob and Jason have produced two award winning short films: “The Puzzle” and “Midnight Sun.” After working with friend and fellow filmmaker David A. Cross on his feature, "GhostWatcher," Rob and Jason felt it was time they tackled the feature film genre themselves with, “The Murder Game.” Of course the duo hope this film will embody all the greatness of their previous films and launch their careers to new heights...but, more importantly, they just want to scare the hell out of you!
Jason Contino - Director of Photography, Writer, Producer
Born in the late seventies in the city of brotherly love, Jason always had a love of horror. He was constantly watching or shooting horror films with his friends, or attempting to gross someone out by cutting off a limb at a family function. He attended Towson University where he received a degree in film and met fellow co-conspirator Robert Harari. They made two successful shorts together "The Puzzle" and "Midnight Sun", and decided it was time to make their feature debut. The script is written for "The Murder Game" and pre-production is underway. Hopefully when all is said and done, "The Murder Game" will be a scary good time.
David A. Cross - Assistant Director