It being the usual laid back Saturday night (I don’t get out much), I was browsing Netflix and came across Series 7: The Contenders (2001), a film about a group of people whose names are drawn and must hunt each other down, all the while being filmed for TV. Remembering that I’d seen it already, I decided to give it a watch, as I didn’t think it was that bad because it made fun of reality TV. Unfortunately it’s not as good as I remember, but it’s still a fun and completely self aware, satirical take on reality shows and the galmorization of violence.
Short nitty-gritty plot description from IMDb is as follows: A TV program selects people at random to kill one another for fame and their freedom.
I have to give props to everyone involved in the making of this film. They took a low budget, a list of unknown actors (at the time) and ran with it. The guerrilla style filmmaking helps the movie seem grounded in reality. The idea is fun and kind of scary in the fact that I can see something like this happening in the future.* Unfortunately, if you’re expecting an hour and a half thrill ride of violence, mayhem and blood, don’t. The movie runs fairly slow, with a lot of exposition and a very small amount of violence. Don’t get me wrong, when the violence does happen it can be brutal and realistic. Unfortunately, the film needs to keep within the confines of the reality show setup, so because of this, you’ll be seeing a lot of diary style monologues, instead of violent action scenes.
*Trust me. America’s Next Top Model is one psycho away from making it happen.
No Academy Awards are going to be won on this film, but I did find that each actor put in just the right performance to pull off the reality show vibe. The only real “big star” of the movie (not counting the narration and quick cameo from Will Arnett) is Brooke Smith, who at the time was really only known for rubbing the lotion on it’s skin. She would later go on to starring in Grey’s Anatomy. She puts in a commendable performance as the downtrodden and very much pregnant, Dawn. The role required a person who can be both caring and ruthless when need be. Brooke Smith manages those emotions easily.
Too bad she couldn’t manage her hair a little better.
Conclusion time! It may be low budget, a little slow and the acting might not seem like the best, but if you can’t stand reality shows and want to see something that doesn’t hide it’s cards when making fun of them, you’ll enjoy Series 7: The Contenders. Just don’t go in expecting tons of violence and big hollywood budgets.