It would be easy enough to mock the insulated world of Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts, but Robbie Fraser's debut movie takes a gentler and more sympathetic path. Our hero is Ralph (Ross Finbow), a lonesome freshman at Glasgow university who comandeers the local fantasy gaming society to play out his own imaginary scenarios. There he meets Marlyn (Danielle Stewart), a Goth girl who thinks she is an elf, and nerdy passion looks set to blossom.
Unfortunately, Ralph's infatuation is thwarted by his old friend Lennie (James Young) a street tough whose fantasy experience is limited to watching The Lord of the Rings on acid. When Lennie bullies his way into the game, Marlyn is immediately drawn to him, and the stage is set for a love triangle that plays out simultaneously in Ralph's fantastical realm and the grim reality of a wintry Glasgow.
"STYLISH FANTASY SEQUENCES"
Despite its micro-budget, Gamerz finds room for stylish fantasy sequences to accompany Ralph's evocative descriptions of mossy catacombs and warty trolls. As the party battle their way through the imaginary dungeon, we see their progress in silhouette, against some lovely hand-drawn backgrounds. It's a neat trick, adding lightness and scope to a film that might otherwise have felt depressingly parochial. Committed performances from the leads make it easy to engage with a world that might seem laughable at first glance, and the quirky cinematography finds oases of warmth and colour where you would least expect them. Fraser is clearly a man to watch.
Gamerz is out in the UK on 22nd February 2008.