13 (Tzameti)


Beginning more Guinness ad than dreamy arthouse, this black-and-white debut from Georgian helmer Géla Babluani soon morphs into a taut, terror thriller of near Kafka-esque death games.

Sebastien, a young immigrant builder with serious eyebrows (director’s brother George Babluani), looks set to go unpaid for repairs on a house when its owner, Godon, dies. Knowing he’s missed out on a hefty payday, Seb steals Godon’s pre-paid train ticket, only to find himself in a sinister betting game of Russian roulette where players stand in a circle and pull the trigger against the head of the man in front.

Part Twilight Zone, part Fight Club, with whiffs of avant-garde experimentalism, what this one-note plot lacks in words is easily made up for in faces: nail-splitting close-ups of the blood-lust gamblers; twitching tension-ratcheting fear of the trigger-pullers. With an absorbing interview with the director too, 13 (Tzameti) is set for cult status.

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