Written by: Victoria Alexander | March 8th, 2021
Bravo! A Herculean effort to deliver a highly original two-character horror movie.
You want to write a screenplay. What is the current number one advice for first-time screenwriters? Write a horror movie. No one is going to read your 145 page script (Steve Zaillian’s script for THE IRISHMAN). Unless you have a story about a disabled teen who is abandoned at a laundromat and is taken home by an Alzheimer’s transgendered female with Alzheimer’s and a lisp hiding from an Ukrainian mob.
The model used by now legendary Blumhouse Productions is simple in its elegance. Make low-budget horror movies. It began in 2007 with PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, which was made for $15,000 and grossed over $193 million worldwide. Blumhouse produced INSIDIOUS which grossed over $99 million worldwide on a budget of $1.5 million. And no stars with “quotes” and contract riders.
Best would be an outdoor horror movie, since filming outdoors is way cheaper. The cast can be anybody willing to turn up for the audition and will wear their own clothes. Generally, the smaller the cast the better.
A one-person movie? It’s been done: BURIED, CAST AWAY and LOCKE to name a few. Two-person movies are tougher. The recent Netflix offering, MALCOLM AND MARIE, stars John David Washington and Zendaya. Both are playing entitled Hollywood drama queens. It proves Zendaya and Washington can memorize long monologues but showcases that they were propelled to stardom too soon. Zendaya does change into tidy-whities during the evening’s shouting match.
A two-person horror movie? THE ODDS is writer-director Bob Giordano’s first movie and he exceeds. Be warned: I was watching it on Netflix when my husband passed by and watched a few brief minutes.
“Everyone who watches this movie should be reported as a deviant and removed from humanity.”
I quickly turned it off and waited until a few days later when my husband was on an errand to watch the rest of the movie.
Yeah, it’s that bad. It’s a pure horror movie on the premise that there is a very strong desire to win a large amount of money by doing something most people would think twice about. You have to be desperate and willing to endure any horror, even torture.
Or, you just want the SAW experience. You can, of course, get on the very long waiting list for McKamey Manor, in Summertown, Tennessee. You are made to sign a 40-page legal waiver in case you are brutally injured, have a stroke, or die. Participants accept they may come in contact with carbon monoxide poisoning and that injuries may occur, such as a stroke, traumatic brain injury, cerebral hemorrhage, broken or sprained bones and drowning. If you manage to get through the 10 hour ordeal without giving up, you win $20,000. As of October, 2020, 24,000 people are currently on the waiting list to be the first to complete McKamey Manor and claim the prize. So far only one person has lasted 2 hours.
What if you heard there was a SAW-like torture competition with the prize money of $1,000,000? Now that could be tempting.
A woman (Abbi Butler) walks in a dark, empty room. The Game Master (James J. Fuentes), sits at a table and asks the woman some general questions. How did she find out about the game and does she know exactly what the rules are?
The Game Master goes over the rules. There are nineteen “contestants” from all over the world that she is playing against. A group of gamblers are betting on the outcome of each challenge. The last one who does not “tap out” wins and goes on the the next challenge. The game challenges get progressively hairy and the woman agrees to cut off a toe, sans pain killers. The Game Master gives her a bandaid.
The woman badly needs the money. She is at the end of her rope and refuses to give up. She has nothing left to lose.
This is not just a SAW-like torture tryst. It is also a strong psychological tour de force by Butler and Fuentes. After each challenge there is a rest period where the Game Master lures the woman into a sadistic, role-playing relationship. He first plays a boyfriend role telling her he will help her endure each torture. He will coach and encourage her. Their play acting starts to get creepy and the woman begins to wonder if she has been set up by the Game Master. Did she ever meet him? He looks vaguely familiar.
As the woman undergoes the challenges, other challengers start “tapping out.” The Game Master begins to slowly show his pleasure at her suffering. Maybe there are no other players. Maybe this is his game. Maybe there is no million dollar prize.
This is an enthralling psychological horror movie. Like GET OUT, THE ODDS is clever and addicting. You are amazed how it works with only two actors, one room and one set of clothes.
Butler and Fuentes are sensational. This kind of filmmaking should be applauded for its creative ingenuity. Giordano has a big career ahead of him and he proves the one set, two-person horror movie can be creative, unique and not merely a recycled bloodfest.