13 Tzameti

As the old saying goes, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” While that point is certainly debatable, after sitting through a film with as familiar a plot as this, we can fully appreciate another familiar phrase: “Dying of boredom.”
Fixing roofs isn’t exactly bringing in the cash for Sebastien (George Babluani, The Untouchable). At his most recent customer’s house, however, he finds an enigmatic envelope which contains a series of instructions that promises to lead him to some big bucks. Seizing the opportunity, he follows through only to find himself in the company of a bunch of rich guys who force him to take part in a high stakes game–of Russian roulette.
A secret club that bets big on death sounds like a cool idea, right? Well, sure it is–if you haven’t seen Hostel. And it seems like this film could provide quite a bit of cinematic tension and make audiences deliciously uneasy, doesn’t it? Well, it probably could–if you’ve never seen Das Experiment. Don’t get us wrong: We’re not trying to be film snobs here, but there is nothing new to this story. Babluani and the rest of the cast of unwilling players give commendable performances, yet seem unable to invoke that great sense of urgency and panic.
The good news is that, at the very least, director Gela Babluani (this being his feature film debut) has an aesthetic sense that’s charmingly reminiscent of classic film noir, right up to shooting the entire film in black and white. His use of shadows (especially towards the end of the show) is particularly impressive.
Which is a shame, because his style would’ve been put to much better use on a story that was more than just a couple of other cool ideas thrown together. Catch 13 Tzameti purely for the look, but don’t bother with the story.
You’ll dig 13 Tzameti if you like: Movies about sadistic little clubs like Hostel or Fight Club, or flicks with that noir vibe to them.