The Game of the Clock is a UK-lensed horror short film from Italian-born filmmaker Michele Olivieri. The film hit the festival circuit in 2018, both domestic and international, screening at Frightfest, Mad Monster Film Fest, and others. The Game of the Clock even picked up awards at the Independent Horror Movie Awards, as well as at Creepy Tree Film Fest.
As the film opens, a young, presumably teenaged girl arrives at her friend’s home for a planned movie night. However, there is no answer at the door, nor is there any answer to her texts or calls. Soon, a loud ringing sound can be heard from just inside the front door, which begins to ominously creak open. Entering the residence, the girl finds the sound to be coming from an old-fashioned alarm clock that is sitting near the door. Silencing the alarm, she also finds a note, written in scrawled handwriting, that reads: “Welcome to the Game of the Clock. Can you endure 5 minutes?”
The girl places the note back down, thinking it little more than some fiendish prank contrived by her friend, Susan. She begins searching for her friend, making her way to the living room. The room is in a mild state of disarray, with nearly-spent tea-light candles scattered about the room, and food spilled onto the floor. While the girl finds no sign of Susan, she does find a another note, this one with a much more sinister and threatening message.
It quickly becomes quite evident that this is no normal “game” and that something evil is in the apartment with our young damsel in distress, and that it (whatever it is) is intent on doing her harm! Although the girl still believes this all to be some elaborate ruse, she is more than unnerved by the nature of the “game”. However, the unease escalates into all-out panic upon a gruesome discovery in Susan’s kitchen.
Knowing little more than to not look at the unseen intruder, the girl clenches her eyes as she blindly attempts to find an exit. However, the unseen presence begins its pursuit, steadily covering the distance between itself and the girl until it is close enough to almost grab her with its ghoulish hand and long sharp fingernails.
The Game of the Clock concludes with a simple, yet effective twist; one that may be somewhat predictable, but still clever in its execution. Sure, there is some argument to be made that the film’s final scene is a little contradictory to some of the “facts” presented earlier in the film, but it’s not something that can’t easily be overlooked, especially when the end result is still the same.
At only 7 minutes long, there’s little reason to not give The Game of the Clock a watch. The film moves at a brisk pace, making it feel shorter than its already abbreviated runtime. The film hinges entirely on the performance of its lone actress, Simone Mumford, who provides a respectable level of belief as she unwittingly becomes the subject of this macabre game. Overall, I found the film to be well-made and quite enjoyable, although not exemplary.
Olivieri made the smart decision to show less in the film. This goes for the protagonist itself, of which only a hand is seen, as well as for blood and gore, of which there is only a single prop used. Even this instance isn’t particularly gory, so much as it is “gross”. As such, this approach not only makes The Game of the Clock much more creepy and unsettling, but it also renders the film fairly safe for younger horror fans, namely teens and older tweens… which really isn’t a bad thing. This one would easily feel like a companion piece to Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark or even “Are You Afraid of the Dark?“, albeit a more provocative episode.
The Game of the Clock is available to watch on Amazon Prime and on the Filmzie app.