A serial killer is on the loose in Portland, Oregon, and detective Patrick O’Brien (Brad Goodman) has been brought in to help local police hunt and catch the villain. As clues continue to turn up little, Patrick runs afoul of some old criminal acquaintances with a grudge to settle. With the death count rising, it seems like nothing can stop the mysterious killer.
As the same time, Eden Sullivan (Kristen Martha Brown) is beginning to have strange dreams that seem to be connected to the murders. As she follows the path her dreams are setting out for her, it takes her to the house of Castile (David Cascadden), a chess aficionado with a very strange chess set, that may be the key to solving the murders.
My main criticism of David Eblen’s feature film, Ravana’s Game, is that it tosses an awful lot at you, confusing an overabundance of plot with quality. Whether it be the characters or subplots (I left out a significant amount from the synopsis above), the film lacks real focus. It tries to be too much, and winds up shortchanging itself overall. It’s a story that would be more at home in a book, where the tangents and ambiguities could be fleshed out in a way that doesn’t feel like a narrative jumble.
Because it’s tough to make a film with multiple threads connect; I think the filmmakers do a somewhat passable job at it, but it doesn’t work out in a way that is intriguing to a viewer. Instead, with so much going on, you begin to wonder if the real narrative has even gotten started yet, who you’re supposed to be engaging with, what you’re supposed to be caring about. The end result is a complete disconnect; you don’t really care about what’s going on anymore.
It doesn’t help that the acting in the film is full of awkward, unnatural deliveries. When you’re struggling to care about the narrative, a strong performance or two can save the day. Unfortunately, the film comes up short.
Now, lest you think there’s nothing good to be found in the film, I do want to give kudos to the use of CGI to bring certain elements to life. It is done well enough, and fits within the spirit of the film. It would’ve been really easy to screw up those elements and make something laughable but, compared to the rest of the film, in this arena it overachieves.
In the end, I don’t know what this movie wanted to be. In some ways, it’s like a crime thriller Jumanji, with horror aspects. In other ways, it’s a drama, but not a very good one. In all ways, it’s a lot to take in, with a final result being one of indifference.
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