Labyrinthus is a moderately enjoyable adventure movie that stands on the shoulders of quite a few predecessors. There’s a game being played that has serious consequences in the real world a la Jumanji and Zathura. There’s a computer game that ends up being very dangerous to play (Stay Alive and quite a few others). And there’s a young girl being guided through a labyrinth while trying to avoid a big baddie. Y’know . . . . . . a bit like Labyrinth, which even the title pretty much tells you. UK viewers may also be reminded of Wonders In Letterland (featuring the bad witch named T-Bag).
Spencer Bogaert is young Frikke, the boy who gets a hold of the computer game that will put lives in danger. One main feature of the game is the ability to upload a picture of anything from the real world. Frikke puts the household cat in there, moments later realising what a mistake he has made when the real cat becomes comatose. Load an apple into the game and the real apple will rot in seconds. Load a carton of juice into the game and it will sour. You get the picture. Emma Verlinden is Nola, the young girl who has been cruelly put into the game until a player can rescue her. Frikke eventually finds out that Nola is in hospital, just as comatose as the cat. Which means that he can’t stop playing the game until he completes it and keeps anyone from harm, including his best friend, Marko (Felix Maesschalck).
Pierre De Clercq has written a half-decent script here, but it should have been a lot better. The premise is ripe for the plucking, and I think that he may have been considering the limitations of adapting his ideas to the screen when holding back from the full potential of his core ideas.
Director Douglas Boswell is then saddled with a script that feels incomplete, and then takes some magic away from it by not doing his best to stretch every part of the budget (which I’d imagine is a comparatively small one compared to what was needed). Necessity if the mother of invention, so they say, which is why I was disappointed to see how bland much of this movie was. Some scenes do shine, such as an area made from stacked houses of cards, or a Christmas town made of folded paper buildings. Sadly, they are too few and far between. And so many little details have been neglected (yes, I am thinking of the game directional pointer on the top of the screen that always shows in the same position) that the end result is just lazy.
The cast all do well enough. Bogaert is a decent lead, and Verlinden makes a likable young damsel in distress. Maesschalck is good fun, and Pepijn Caudron and Herwig Ilegems are both solid support as the main adult figures who become connected to events.
Witty at times, thrilling enough for children, and definitely far from terrible, I wish that Labyrinthus had managed to be something a bit more than it is. But what it is . . . . . . . is perfectly okay for what it sets out to provide.
Labyrinthus was screened at EIFF 2015.
DIRECTOR: DOUGLAS BOSWELL
WRITER: PIERRE DE CLERCQ
STARS: SPENCER BOGAERT, EMMA VERLINDEN, FELIX MAESSCHALCK, PEPIJN CAUDRON, HERWIG ILEGEMS
RUNTIME: 99 MINS APPROX
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