Jul 15, 2023
Sylvie Mix, Alan Tyson, Donovan Riley Wolfington, Jason Tostevin
A group of people participate in a life-and-death competition.
Another Guts & Glory Race of Death is about to begin. This outrageous event involves individuals arriving to a remote location in the countryside of Ohio, where they take part in pairs and attempt to complete a long race in the forest that is filled with a variety of obstacles, most of which resemble the ones found in army training camps and several of them also have names such as: Tube of Doom, Gates of Hell and Creepy Crawler. However, it is not just the obstacles that the contestants have to worry about, as this is a challenge that involves death, with participants being allowed (and forced) to kill each other. The prize for the winner is glory.
The protagonist in this story is Sunny (Mix), a young woman, who takes part in the deadly competition with her friend Ezra (Tyson), an awkward and nervous guy. The two of them will have to overcome all the life-threatening situations in order to survive, which involve other competitors and deranged man (Wolfington) who arrives at the scene in an ice-cream van. The narrative alternates between characters, exploring them and observing them as they struggle to survive.
Although all this may give the impression that this movie is a survival thriller in the likes of The Hunger Games or Battle Royale, it actually is a dark comedy, with awkward characters and entertaining dialogue, yet one with quite a bit of violence and gore. The characters are quite interesting and one who stands outs is the young man with the ice-cream van. Dressed as a chef, he stalks the contestants, murdering them one-by-one like a serial killer and as he does so, he sings cheerfully and seems to be having the time of his life. Regarding the contestants, they all wear race tags, most of them wear outfits (one pair are dressed as clowns, another as skeletons) and most of them come across as naive and childish, including one who wants to document the event, although that is not allowed. And then there are the people who organise the event, which include the couple in charge who do not take things seriously, Carl (Tostevin) the supervisor and a bunch of big guys who make sure that everyone is following the rules. Generally, the acting is not great, but that does not stop the performances from being entertaining.
Violence is frequent througout the feature, with hand-to-hand fighting and bloody killings. People are shot, stabbed, drowned and burned alive. The murders are graphic, yet also humorous at times, particularly when an unrealistic decapitation occurs.
The soundtrack contains some enjoyable tracks that include heavy metal, country and calliope music. The addition of heavy metal in particular helps make the fight scenes more intense.
With her first feature film, Hope Madden has made a violent dark comedy that is basically a survival story and filled with homicidal people, deadly weapons of all sorts and lots of killings. The performances and fight scenes are amusing and viewers who enjoy dark humour and gore should definitely give this movie a go.