Family Game Night (2018), directed by Nicholas Ferwerda.
Written by Ali Chappell and Jon Kohan.
Starring Meredith Heinrich, Jenny Fischer and Mark Brombacher.
Mandatory family game night is usually when we “make sure that we take time out of our busy lives to take part in the magical time,” you know? Hot food, maybe some wine for the adults, a few family games – Monopoly for example – and a blood sacrifice to Satan… Just remember what the one rule at the dinner table is: “No cellphones.”
Directed by Nicholas Ferwerda, and written by Ali Chappell and Jon Kohan, Family Game Night is a short 12-minute comedy/horror film that explores the awkward bonding of a middle-class family. You see, tonight is the titular family game night – an annual gathering for Mark (Mark Brombacher, Grey Zone), his wife Tammy (Meredith Heinrich, Lady Psycho Killer), daughter Kelly (Jenny Fischer), and young son Ethan (Connor Hume) – with Kelly arriving just in time for dinner, albeit accompanied by Doug (Brad Linton).
Doug is a homeless drifter that Kelly took upon herself to invite to family game night. He could use a nice hot meal, and the family are very accommodating, if perhaps a little… unhinged! But Doug is hungry, and the family are insistent that he stays. “So, what kind of games do you play on family night?”, asks Doug as he shovels down a fork full of pasta. “It’s called Sacrifice.” replies Mark, smiling incessantly.
“Sacrifice? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that one… Is it from Mattel?”
Family Game Night is a goof on modern day family values that is as charming as it is horrifying. This is your not-so-average family, engaging in a rather average family dinner, with all the usual bickering you would expect. Put your cellphone away, don’t be rude at the dinner table, and show your devotion to Beelzebub! So, after far too many gulps of an 1986 poison-laced red wine, their ‘guest’ collapses and the game of ‘Sacrifice’ begins! But first they must work together as a family, and drag his body down to the sacrificial altar in the basement… “Well he’s not a fancy couch…just toss his ass down the steps!”
Sprinkled throughout with comedic moments like this that made me smile, Family Game Night successfully mixes comedy and horror together in perfect harmony. This is not an easy feat to achieve, but the intentionally awkward delivery of the dialogue – particularly from producer Mark Brombacher – combines relatable family squabbling with the most unusual of family rituals. We’ve all been told that leaving the lights on is a fire hazard, but have you ever been scolded for leaving sacrificial candles lit and unattended?
“Next time wait until the body is downstairs, alright?”