Film Review: Deadly Games (1989)

Also known as: 36.15 code Père Noël (original French title), Game Over, Dial Code Santa Claus
Release Date: March 18th, 1989 (France – Laon Film Festival of Youth and Children’s Films)
Directed by: René Manzor
Written by: René Manzor
Music by: Jean-Félix Lalanne
Cast: Alain Lalanne, Louis Ducreux, Brigitte Fossey, Stéphane Legros, Patrick Floersheim, François-Éric Gendron

L.M. Productions, Deal, Garance,, 87 Minutes

Review:

If you already thought that French movies were weird, this one will only solidify that assessment.

Man, this is some seriously bonkers shit but at the same time, I really liked it for the most part, as it featured a Home Alone-esque plot, written and shot before Home Alone, actually, which sees a kid have to protect himself and his diabetic, nearly blind grandfather from a home invader. All the while, this kid uses gadgets and traps to try and evade this sinister Christmas intruder.

Now there are some major differences from Home Alone. For one, this is really fucking dark and definitely not a kids’ movie despite premiering at a film festival for children’s flicks. Also, this isn’t about a goofy duo of holiday burglars, the invader in this film is a derelict hobo with a Santa obsession that murders those in his way and sets off to a country mansion to play a deadly game with a young boy.

The movie is strange in that French way that’s hard to describe but it’s something I notice in a lot of French horror and it has to do with the storytelling and its lack of any sort of logic. You see the kid get the psycho Santa killer in a real pickle, multiple times, but for some nonsensical reason, he doesn’t finish him off. One example of this is when he and his grandpa are in the car and the killer Santa is in front of them. The grandpa tells the kid to essentially “Gun it!” and the kid goes, “I can’t he’s in front of the car!” Yeah, no shit French kid, that’s why you run him the fuck down! Watch more American movies!

Also, somehow it seems like the killer Santa knows the house better than the kid that lives in it and he can only appear in certain places at certain moments if he has the power of teleportation.

Maybe I’m being an asshole and nitpicking but multiple things like that happen in the film and then the kid is super clever but then an idiot too, as he’s always leaving himself open for the killer to get to him. This makes me think that maybe French people just aren’t logical, tactical thinkers which may explain a lot.

What I love most about this movie is how imaginative it is. The house is simply fucking cool and impressive. The sets are great and the hidden toy room is just someplace you want to see in real life, even as an adult.

Overall, this is a strange ass movie that will leave you scratching your head a lot. However, it’s also incredibly unique and definitely a very different experience than any other movie I’ve ever seen, which at this point, has been thousands.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other weird, nonsensical French horror, I guess.