Landmine Goes Click, 2015
Written and directed by Levan Bakhia
Starring Sterling Knight, Spencer Locke, Dean Geyer, Kote Tolordava
Trapped standing on an armed landmine, an American tourist is forced to watch helplessly while his girlfriend is terrorized and brutally assaulted.
Touted to be the “most controversial film” and “must see” movie of this year’s FrightFest, Landmine Goes Click really is a tale of two personalities. One personalty is a tense and tight thriller about relationships and how they survive tough turmoil, while the other is an attention-seeking bore who tries its very best to make you feel uncomfortable but just makes you want to hang out with the other personality again.
While trekking through former war-torn Georgia, three American youngsters are celebrating life. Two of the three have just become engaged and the third party is set to be the best man, so life is grand. However, the best man of the group accidentally steps on an old landmine, forcing the trio to reveal secrets about their pasts and deal with any consequences.
Sadly, the above paragraph is not the plot of Landmine Goes Click and is instead just the set-up. What is more frustrating is that the movie seems to be in such a rush to get the set-up over, that none of the horror and drama of stepping on a landmine is brought to the forefront. Instead, one of our characters goes from nice and jolly to a Saturday morning cartoon villain who reveals their elaborate (and frankly idiotic) ruse which then leads into the second portion of this tale.
And this is where things become tricky. Because to fully articulate why Landmine Goes Click fails as a movie, you have to go into spoilers. And perhaps the only enjoyment one could get from watching Landmine Goes Click is the knowing nothing going in so that it can surprise you. Suffice to say, the remaining Americans encounter a local named Ilya, who seems to be toying with the foreigners for his own sick pleasure. What follows will either make you uncomfortable, or incredibly bored (I personally was the latter). This sequence lasts a long time with very little differentiating between the deplorable acts, which just makes the whole thing feel like a waste of time.
However the biggest problem with the film comes in the final act, where director Levan Bakhia attempts to raise some questions for his audience to go away with. In some aspects, this is actually the best portion of the film because Bakhia’s no-nonsense take on “an eye for an eye” and the repercussions that come with that is rather striking. It’s problematic however because it makes no sense for any of the characters to behave the way they are. Nor does it make sense thematically. Furthermore, it’s so morally ambiguous with no one to cheer and no one to boo, that the entire third act of the movie falls flat with zero tension.
It almost feels like Landmine Goes Click should have been two separate movies. A horror movie set in some mountains in the middle of nowhere with one of the party rooted in position because any sudden movements will cause a huge explosion is a great premise for a movie. Throw in some unresolved sexual tension, rage and jealousy and you have the recipe for a true gem. But it feels as though Bakhia got bored quickly with the idea and decided on doing something different, but couldn’t be bothered to re-write his first act. The last portion of this movie is such a stark difference to the first portion that you could even forget that this film was supposed to be about a landmine. And speaking of a good premise, the second film within Landmine Goes Click isn’t too bad either – if it was better directed with a much tighter script and fleshed out ideas. Sadly, it isn’t.
On top of that, the performances aren’t particularly strong with only Kote Tolordava pulling out a naturalistic showing. The three Americans, Sterling Knight, Spencer Locke and Dean Geyer, are hamming it up to an incredible degree. Even when shooting in the middle of nowhere, they all manage to chew an incredible amount of scenery.
But the biggest problem with Landmine Goes Click is that it’s a wasted opportunity. It had the chance to be a cool and intense drama, but chose a different path in order to be “edgy” and “controversial”. And, to be honest, the movie isn’t shocking enough to be either. The only controversial thing about Landmine Goes Click is that some people think it’s controversial. It’s no more shocking, thrilling or deplorable than I Spit on Your Grave, Hard Candy, Texas Chainsaw Massacre or American Mary – and it’s not as sophisticated as those movies either. Landmine Goes Click, audience goes snooze.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Luke Owen is the Deputy Editor of Flickering Myth and the host of the Flickering Myth Podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @LukeWritesStuff.