Shall We Play? (2020) [BITS 2020]

A teen girl downloads an app meant to communicate with the dead in an effort to understand her past and her own self. Of course, this does not go well for her and those around her.

Written by Ann Forry and Emma Raine Walker with Forry directing, this film could have easily gone in the usual route for this kind of things as it is a set up the public has seen dozens of times in the last few years alone, but her it takes a very different route adding in mental health issues and family dynamics that are all too real. With these ideas, one would have hoped for something more interesting, but it all becomes a bit too slow for its own good. The film has such good ideas, but they all seem to be underused and under-developed. The runtime is used here to create something that just feels incomplete or like it takes much too long. Had the mental health and family dynamics angles been explored more and given more thought, this would have made for a stellar film. The idea that the spirits might be part of a mental disorder is something that could have led to much more original content and something much more interesting to watch. As it stands, the characters in this film have potential, but it’s not fully explored.

These characters are played in a manner that makes many of them, except the grand-mother, come off grating or annoying. They all have so much negativity to them that it’s hard to connect with them. This may be the way they have been written or the way the actors were directed to play them, something that is just not so great for the story here. The lack of characters or interpretations that can be cared about is something that doesn’t help the viewer connect with them, the story, and the film. It leads to performances that are not pulling the viewer in. This is rather unfortunate as a good part of the cast shows potential and that they can act, but the choices made here, for their performances, come off as people you wouldn’t want to deal with in life and thus characters that are not care about enough to let them have any kind of impact.

Shall We Play? Is a film with plenty of good ideas, but not enough good use of these ideas. This means that the best parts of the film are not delves into enough and that the more generic parts of the story seem to get the most attention. It all leads to a film that loses the attention and has a hard time regaining it, making it feel much longer than it actually is. The main disappointment here is all the potential the story showed and how it all feels wasted by the time the credits roll.