Outside of Japan, animated horror movies are rare birds – this offers EC Comics levels of splatter, and a decent premise, combining the murder-all-the-heirs giallo with a game-like do-over structure (also seen in Volition). It also has a frame that feels a little like a 1980s Doctor Who serial – or a Marvel crossover event miniseries – as non-human beings with titles like the Gamemaster (voiced by Morena Baccarin) and the Overseer (William Shatner) look down on struggling people like the Gods in Jason and the Argonauts and place bets on their survival (or not) while occasionally rolling back time so events can play out differently.
Arms tycoon and all-round bastard Cyrus DeKalb, drawn to look like voice actor Ray Wise, is dying and invites his four estranged and variously rebellious children – eco-activist Miriam (Dani Lennon), dropout muso Ethan (Damien C. Haas), gay suit Collin (Benjamin Simon), trophy wife Kelsy (Florence Hartigan) – to his locked-down building to discuss the disposal of his estate, and then sics his killbots and minions on them. A lot of gore ensues, as the grown-up children alternately fight each other, try to win their individual games, and bond in order to strike back at their monstrous father.
It has many obvious comic-bookish elements, like the ridiculously revealing costume sported by the Gamemaster, and relies on broad strokes cackling villainy, but some thought has gone into the multiple versions of the players. One rare quiet scene in which the estranged siblings warm up to each other sets the tone for a version of the boss fight, that is then rewound and played without that sensitive moment so the quartet are viciously at each others’ throats again. Written by Jim Cirile (of such video titles as Hawk’s Vengeance and Bounty Hunter) and Tanya C. Klein; directed by Jason Axinn.