What would you do to win a habanero-orange compact SUV? What if the rules of the game are not only unclear, but downright dangerous? Maria learns quickly in Stanleyville that there are no winners in Maxwell McCabe-Lokos’ directorial debut.
Stanleyville, directed by Canadian actor Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, was an unexpected joyride into madness…I freaking enjoyed this little gem which was released July 5th on VOD. The film stars Susanne Wuest, Cara Ricketts, Christian Serritiello, George Tchortov, Adam Brown, and the awesome Julian Richings as Homunculus, and begins with a hawk crashing into a high-rise office building.
People have been comparing this film to Squid Game, but I think Stanleyville was a step above because of the acting and storyline. After Maria (Susanne Wuest) witnesses the hawk’s demise, she realizes that its death bothered no one in the office…just her. When she arrives home, she is met with the same dismissive attitude from her hubby and daughter. Maria does what so many of us wish we could do but are to chicken to go past the wish…Maria walks out of her house, throws her purse, cash, and cellphone into the trash and heads to the mall.
At the mall, Maria is approached by a stranger wearing a blue backpack. Homunculus (Julian Richings) tells Maria that she has been randomly chosen to be part of a contest that will bring her to a personal transcendence…with the memory of the hawk still fresh in her mind, Maria accepts.
Homunculus informs the participants that have gathered in an abandoned building that there are eight parts to the contest. They will be disqualified if they don’t complete each assignment or if they attempt to leave the building before the contest is over. The participants are equally weird, starting with a failed actor, Manny (Adam Brown), a bodybuilder, Bofill (George Tchortov), a businessman with daddy issues, Andrew Frisbee Jr. (Christian Serritiello) and the ruthless Felicie (Cara Ricketts). As each competition increasingly gets more bizarre and dangerous, the comradery vanishes, and the cutthroat personalities within each participant is brazenly revealed.
Maria, who is more observant than the others, studies the photo on the wall of the Victorian Explorer Henry Morton Stanley. Maria is apparently the only one aware of the door that leads to escape…but is there really an exit from this increasingly hostile contest?
Like I said in the beginning, I think Stanleyville was more enjoyable than Squid Game. That is my opinion. You don’t need to agree. The contest was more of a journey into the minds of the participants…the results unexpected. Beware of contests that promise the world, what you might wind up with is a competition with no escapees.