Writer: Adam Lawson (Screenplay)
Starring: Bai Ling, Warren Kole, Dustin Nguyen, Jaime Ray Newman, Jude Ciccolella, Murielle Telio, Nick Lane
Plot: In a sunken castle underneath the earth, five strangers wake. They have no food. No memory. No water. And no way out. They must organize and band together for the sinister adventure that awaits.
Tagline – In Hell… Only your sins can save you…
Runtime: 1 Hour 20 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Poor Man’s Saw
Story: The Gauntlet starts when five strangers, Kim Lee (Ling), David (Kole), Jin-Soo (Nguyen), Emma (Newman) and Tyler (Lane) waking up in the mysterious dungeon like series of traps, here the five must start to work together to figure out how to get out of thee location, with their memories only coming back slowly to who they were in their lives.
As the memories start to come back to the strangers, they start to understand why they have been elected, only for the battle to survive to start to take over, as they simply don’t know if they can trust each other.
Thoughts on The Gauntlet
Characters – David is the first to wake up, defending himself from Jin-Soo before learning about his own purpose for being selected, he does take the lead of the five when it comes to searching for a way out, only to know the motivation behind being trapped in this game. Jin-Soo is another one of the strangers, he is one of the first to remember what he once did to make his position here make sense, only for him to be wounded for most of the journey. Kim Lee is the last to be found with her becoming the least accepted within the group as she appears after the first task. Emma is the one that questions everything that is happening more often than not. The big problem with the characters comes from the fact they are meant to be strangers and for some reason they start acting like they are best friends.
Performances – The performances from the whole cast aren’t at a strong level, this is mostly down to the poorly written characters and weak story, this just doesn’t give any of the actors to get a moment to make them standout from the rest of the crowd here.
Story – The story follows five strangers that find themselves trapped in a dungeon like environment without any memories to why they are and the race on to figure out the series of traps to get out alive. This is a story that we have seen before in the ‘Cube Franchise’ and ‘Saw 2’ where the people need to learn to work together to survive, the tension does mount between the sides which follows the rule book too. The problem with the story is how quickly the characters suddenly seem to become friends even if they are trapped in a situation where they are live or die. We do try to bring some type of mythology behind the outcome too, which only falls short.
Action/Horror – The action is mostly saved for later in the film, which is a poorly shot fight sequence, with the horror being within the traps that never feel as deadly as they could.
Settings – The highlight of the film is the setting because it feels like we are set in a secret level of the Crystal Maze game.
Special Effects – The effects are used well enough without being turned to for the sake of it.
Final Thoughts – This is another attempt to cash in on the success of the Saw movies, it lacks the tension required to make it standout and ends up feeling like a missing episode of The Crystal Maze.
Overall: Crystal Maze Unseen Footage.