AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2020: ‘Murder Bury Win’

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Murder Bury Win

Written and directed by Michael Lovan, Murder Bury Win had its Texas premiere at the Austin Film Festival, which has gone virtual this year due to the ongoing pandemic. The genre-bending film stars Mikelen Walker, Erich Lane, Henry Alexander Kelly, Craig Cackowski, and Brian Slaten. In the film, three friends,  Chris (Mikelen Walker), Barry (Henry Alexander Kelly), and Adam (Erich Lane), have created a board game, the eponymous, “MURDER BURY WIN.” Drawing inspiration from one of their favorite existing games, “Murder Wall,” the trio thinks their new game has what it takes to become a bestseller on the indie charts. So, they do what any indie games do in 2020, they throw it on a crowdfunding website and wait for their idea to do the rest of the work. In this part of Murder Bury Win, you get a buddy comedy with three friends who have completely different identities and takes on the world.

Chris works in a board game store and knows the industry inside and out. Barry is mild-mannered and a stickler for rules. And Adam, well, to put it simply he’s the crazy white boy of the group with all the characteristics that come with this trope – and yet someone we all know. The film opens with the three friends playing a game on what appears to be a sound stage, planning murder. Then, it moves from a set to their dining table, and it’s revealed that they’re playing a board game. This opening and the conversation had in the films first 10 minutes take the time to let you know who each of the people are. As they dive into building their game you get to see how failure hits them all. However, when their attempt to crowdfund fails, a mysterious man makes them an offer: he will publish their game on the condition that he takes credit as the sole creator and owner.

From friendship to bad business ethics, the film pivots into a drama fueled by comedy and frustration. Then, it turns again and morphs into its final form – a dark comedy that settles into the uncomfortable ideas of creation, bad friends, and even race. Instead of just taking the deal outright, a dispute over the gaming rights happens in the mysterious man’s home and leaves the trio with a body on their hands. From that point on, the young men realize how suspiciously like murder the freak accident appears. Now, with few options remaining, they look to their game for guidance. The premise of their game? How to murder someone and get rid of the body.

Murder Bury Win

Murder Bury Win cleverly blends game and reality, not out of gimmick but out of circumstance. While the game-nature of it all will be familiar to fans of Clue and even Ready or Not, there is never a sense of repetitious plot or even a familiarity with the film. This is due in large part to the actors themselves and how the film uses it’s clearly small budget to the max.

On the former, the chemistry between our three leads is superb. Walker, Kelly, and Lane capture the complexities of friendship, its importance, and the heartbreak that happens when you realize betrayal. Additionally, Cackowski as the mysterious man is just plain skeezeball to the highest power. The way he delivers his dialogue from the moment we hear him first to his last scene makes you hate him. On the latter, the fact that the location of the film is majority centered in one cabin and the woods that surround it helps put a focus on the actors.

Murder Bury Win allows its story to shine by not pushing past its indie restrictions. While this does make some plot holes – namely in the way of Officer Dan, it also allows for excellently executed comedic moments that put the weight of the film on its stars, which they carry well.

Overall, Murder Bury Win is just pure fun. It’s hilarious in every way that it means to be and outside small gaps in the plot it makes for a fun watch for genre fans. The gore and process of disposing of a body make it a film with one goal, making its characters play a game. That’s why it works.

Murder Bury Win had its Texas premiere at Austin Film Festival October 22, 2020.

Murder Bury Win
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Overall, Murder Bury Win is just pure fun. It’s hilarious in every way that it means to be and outside small gaps in the plot it makes for a fun watch for genre fans. The gore and process of disposing of a body make it a film with one goal, making its characters play a game. That’s why it works.