SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Note: This movie is also known as The Evil Within, which rather strangely is the title it showed at the start of the movie, despite it being listed as Mine Games on Netflix. Also note: no kidding about the spoilers. Be prepared to be spoiled.
This is the story of... wait for it... a group of teens driving a van out to a remote cabin! Man, what a fun and unique thing to do. When they arrive, one of them finds a mine in the woods, and for some reason they all think the coolest thing ever would be to explore this mine (actually, that does sound cool). They find strange things like a wall that has "This is the first time" written on it. Oh, and also one of the kids takes anti-psychotic medication and he's been skipping it. Inverted causality ensues.
This is definitely one of my favorite types of movies: the time loop movie. They never really make sense in any complete way, but they have their own little set of internal logic that is fun to puzzle out and play with, and it allows you to feel smart and have a lot of little revelations as you see things coming. In this movie, it basically works out that everything that happens 'the first time' is taking place after
'the second time', but even with that rule in place, things are kind of wonky. It's not quite a loop, more like just two times through, in reverse order, with some weird overlapping.
There is of course no explanation for the time loop, and I'm fine with that. If I get to see a time loop, I'm not going to be picky and demand any more than that, I'm happy.
But there is another thing with no explanation or purpose I did not like: the psychic girl. One of the teens in the group is psychic and is constantly flipping out due to the effects of the time loop (for instance, she starts seeing some of the people who are going to die the 2nd time around as dead already). I can't actually figure out why she's in the movie. In the end, all her freakouts put her in a semi-catatonic state, and the killer ends up picking her up and dumping her in the cellar, possibly fatally as she tumbles down the stairs, I don't know. That's the extent of her existence in the movie. She adds nothing, and it seems like psychic powers should be an important plot point if you're going to include them.
One other big complaint with this movie: the killer, spoiler, is the psychotic guy. There is a motivation for what he does - he thinks the other people are out to get him, and I guess the filmmakers thought "needs to take anti-psychotic medication" was a big enough excuse for a seemingly-normal guy to go super paranoid. I don't know, it didn't feel right to me. He gets so paranoid that he murders ALL of his friends - including the couple that they were going to meet, who had nothing to do with anything - just to ensure they don't lock him up. In a room he knows he actually has the key to get out of (he gave it to himself earlier!). It's kind of clever in that it's the classic social trap - they want to lock him up because they think he's gonna kill them, but due to the time loop, he only wants to kill them because they lock him up. That's fun, but I just didn't buy that he would go so nuts and turn so instantly and totally evil. Not to mention capable. He does some seriously complex murdering and scheduling, and a whole lot of very heavy lifting, to pull this off.
I don't know, now that I write about it, I kind of like it. I mean, the other kids found their own dead bodies, so they had plenty of reason to be scared. They were all in a very strange and incomprehensible situation... maybe he would go nuts and kill them all. Or maybe I'm just underestimating his mental problems.
Anyway, the most important thing I want to share about this movie is that it is almost identical in concept to the movie Triangle. I highly recommend Triangle, a five-star horror movie that will really mess with your head. It perfectly executes the time-loop idea (I guess that sort of spoils the movie - I went into it not knowing only that there would be some sort of big twist, which made the loop a huge surprise) and all makes sense in the end. Mine Games does not reach those lofty heights, but hey, it's fun.
So in the end, I think the body count is 5 and a half (Schrodinger's psychic girl), and the movie just barely pulls out 4 out of 5 Minecarts
. You can't really go too wrong with a time loop! Oh, and the final moment in the movie doesn't really make any sense in a lot of ways. That's a common issue with horror movies, always wanting to get in that shock right before the credits. It does explain why there were only two loops though!
Here's a picture of the broken bridge that is featured a few times in the movie.