Paintball (2009)

Director Daniel Benmayor seems to want to create his own version of “Battle Royale” with a hint of “Saw” and “Predator” mixed in to the fold. In the process, he manages to create one of the most moronic genre entries in a very long time. “Paintball” tries to take a normal sport and turn it on its head, in hopes of becoming something in the arena of “Jaws.” But the only thing this movie will inspire you not to do is watch it again. “Paintball” works against logic and common sense from the get go by writing characters that are all numbskulls. They’re so idiotic that when it becomes painfully clear they’re being hunted, they still hold their paintball guns in front of them like weapons and aim. What were they hoping to do with ineffective paintballs? Stain the killer to death?

In either case, “Paintball” is a goofy survival action horror groaner about a group of military nuts and armchair survivalists that sign up to take part in a group paintball campaign. Launched in to the wilderness with their own paint ammo, their fun action trip becomes deadly when their members begin dying by an actual sniper in the woods. What they assume is accidental becomes a fight for survival as they’re given tools to survive, and must fight a masked hunter that intends to murder the players one by one. From there on in the nugget of a creative premise turns in to full on idiocy with plot holes and questions left incredibly unresolved. Who or what is the hunter? Who or what are the organization? Are they survivalists? Military nuts? Are they using the players as guinea pigs? Is it one big experiment? Are they recruiting the surviving teammates?

Why do they decide to kill off the winning team member mid-way presuming them a threat? Is the hunter some experiment? Is the hunter a robot? A serial killer? A professional assassin? Why does the hunter decide mid-way to stop listening to its bosses? And why is it constantly hinted that someone in the group is the hunter if it’s revealed otherwise by the finale? Why does the organization choose character Anna to help survive the campaign and not anyone else? What is the goal of this entire endeavor? Are there thrill seekers out there who pay to watch others die in this trap? And why create the illusion of a paintball game? Why not kidnap people and force them to survive over a course of twenty four hours against the hunter? Why is it alluded that one of our characters had actual military experience if nothing is ever made of it?

And if you’re trying to hide your presence, why plant large black cameras high in the trees for anyone in the game to spot? “Paintball” lacks greatly in logic and feels awfully like a rushed screenplay that could have used two or three re-writes. No one in the film ever makes a wise decision, and those that do are almost punished for besting the hunter. Characters hold their paintball guns out in front for defense, they scream at one another frantically rather than running to duck for cover, and when they’re inexplicably helped by the hunter, they continue to fumble like lunatics and screech for help allowing the hunter to stalk and murder them. Director Benmayor doesn’t help to induce the attempted suspense and terror with horrible directing, and even worse editing.

I never understood half of what was happening during the action, and most of the camera shots never really did much but provide filler. For folks hoping for a splatter film, Benmayor dodges all of the red goo by depicting much of the gore through the eyes of the hunter’s thermal goggles, so gore is reduces to black and yellow globs we’re left to assume is gruesome. At one point the hunter slips mines under a victim’s jacket and steps on them blowing their insides in to mush, but we can never really experience the grue since there is no color on-screen. Why Benmayor aimed for that kind of violence is one of the many confusing aspects of this god awful horror film. Beneath the premise that feels as if it were concocted by a third grade creative writing student, there’s an idea somewhere for a good survival horror film. Hopefully one day we can see it realized.