Shall We Play? is the latest in a new wave of cell phone inspired horror films. At the film’s core is Stacy (Matreya Scarrwener), a troubled teen who is slowly getting her life back on track. She has two seemingly loyal besties in Emma (Michelle Creber) and Jess (Jessica McLeod) and has begun spending more time with her crush Matt (Blake Williams). Though her home life includes getting into typical teenage arguments with her parents, she has her wholesome Grandma Betty (Dolores Drake) in her corner for added support. However, Stacy’s life quickly spirals out of control when she begins to see visions of two young girls.
Deciding to download a Ouija board style app in hopes of finding answers, Stacy unknowingly invites supernatural forces into her life. A decision that will lead her down an increasingly dark path that will test more than her sanity.
Filled with some genuinely disturbing moments, Ann Forry’s debut film Shall We Play? does not deliver to its full potential. The film is most effective when focusing on the horrors that come with being a teenage girl in the age of social media. It is in these moments, where Stacy’s privacy and rights are violated, by Matt and his friends, Forry’s film is truly chilling. The sense of betrayal and emotional pain Stacy feels, and the vastly different reactions her best friends each have, speaks more to the horrors of technology than anything involving the evil app.
Unfortunately, since there are several themes fighting for face time in the film, the social media angle does not get explored as deeply as it could have. Like an app trying to download on an older phone, there is just not enough room for all the ideas (e.g. grief, bullying, mental illness, etc.) in the film. Furthermore, some of the abrupt turns and obvious twists Shall We Play? takes does not fit with the parameters the world of the film establishes.
While overflowing with unrealized ideas, Shall We Play? manages to stay grounded in even its most puzzling moment’s thanks to Matreya Scarrwener’s strong turn as Stacy. Scarrwener displays a wealth of talent and range as she must carry the bulk of the film on her shoulders. Despite featuring several moments that hint at what Forry could have achieved had the script been tighter, Shall We Play? will leave players feeling unsatisfied.