The Suicide King (2012) – By Josh Samford

Independent cinema has always been a breeding ground for experimentation and practice for young filmmakers. Yet, one aspect of this experimentation that I have always enjoyed is when filmmakers attempt to toy with their own "cool" factor. This was something that was quite regular in the heyday of Quentin Tarantino’s popularity, but it has slid a bit within recent years. During the late nineties though, independent cinema was filled with tough guys who would chew up and spit out their dialogue. The original "Suicide Kings," a 1997 film which some hated and some loved, was certainly a movie made during that period. There were plenty of other interesting films from this era, and The Suicide King harkens back to all of them. Featuring a cast made entirely of men, a poker game played with a pistol, and enough hard boiled dialogue to shake a stick at, The Suicide King is a short film that brims with masculinity.

The story is rather simple. We are introduced to our protagonist first, a man who is looking for quick money in order to pay for his daughter’s hospital treatment. He stumbles upon a high stakes poker game with a group of hard men, but they play a particularly deadly style of poker: Suicide Kings. A game where a bad hand leads to the player taking a turn at Russian Roulette, putting a pistol to his head, and hoping for the best. As our lead goes through the night, the game becomes more and more intense.

If The Suicide King has any particular strength, it comes in its dialogue. While much of the writing is pure machismo, there is a certain amount of fun to be had in this over-the-top testosterone fueled banter. The characters are fairly well established throughout this short narrative, which is a hard thing to do with so little screen time, and much of this is due to the dialogue. Ultimately, the tough guy mentality may be a bit drawn out, but it works for the short. Some of the acting can be weaker than what this sort of production might call for, but overall the movie itself helps cover up some of the technical blips along the way. While The Suicide King may not have a ton of subtext, and it may not clamor to made it into a full length feature, the short does stand out as a relatively strong effort. It should be interesting to see where director Ryan D. Blazik, as well as his crew, go from here. You can read more about the movie via the Project Dark Films facebook page: