The Card Player review by The Grim Ringler

The Card Player

It’s never easy to see someone you love go through a rough spot in their life. It feels far worse to have to watch the rough spot over and over and over again. It’s the price you pay for loving film, I suppose. When a director is at their best the world is full of hope and promise. But when they hit the skids, wow, it’s like re-living an eighth grade dance – awkward, boring, and with no style. Such has become the fate of one of Italy’s greatest horror directors – Dario Argento. It’s as if he’s reliving moments from his past and trying to find that lost glory. Well, if nothing else, I can say this – keep looking.

The Card Player is a killer most foul. Someone who uses the, heavens, internet (!!) not for porn but for murder. He abducts victims and then spirits them away to their secret lair and then challenges the police to a game of video poker, and should the police lose…the victim dies…on webcam!! The police are naturally furious and stomp about and curse the day the killer was born and swear revenge. The police, wouldn’t you know it, are just no good at poker so they enlist the help of a n’er-do-well in the hopes of beating the mad-person at their own game. Unfortunately, when they do beat the killer and free a victim, the killer gets a little upset and decides that they need to up the stakes.

If this sounds like the premise of about ten movies that have come out since, say, 1997, then you’d be right. The hell of it with this movie is that Argento is better than this. Much better. The acting is god-awful, the story is pedestrian, and dammit, he’s DONE the masked killer thing. More than a few times. This is a director that has enough talent to do any sort of movie he wanted. He was never the most coherent storyteller, but at least he was a good director. Hell, a great director. His imagery and style influenced this generation of filmmakers. And the ‘twist’ is pretty obvious. And what’s sad is this downward spiral has lasted several films now.

In my heart of hearts, I wish Argento would do another fantasy, or some sort of film that challenged him. I refuse to believe he’s ‘lost it’ as you don’t lose talent. You lose practice USING that talent. Hell, I still wanna know who stole Tobe Hooper’s soul, but that’s for another time. The Card Player is predictable, pointless, and is amateur filmmaking at its worst. And what makes this even sadder is that the score is done in part by one of the geniuses behind the band Goblin, and this score REEKS. And it’s a shame. If you’re a fan of Argento you’ll probably see it anyway, but wow is it bad. Wow! To me, when the inernet is used as a plot device, you’re starting off with your foot in crap, but what do I know?

Alas, Argento has dealt us a bad, bad hand. The people behind this film are better than this, and we need to expect more from them. Otherwise the long, fine career they’ve had is in jeopardy, as is their legacy.


4 out of 10 Jackasses
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