A group of women are forced to fight to the death until just one remains. Sounds a lot like The Hunger Games, right? Well, yes and no.
In Raze, this epic throwdown isn’t billed as an event geared towards the greater good of the country, rather for entertainment and entertainment alone. There is some talk about the winner defying weakness and becoming a Munad, whatever that is, but the film is really much more about boxing-savvy women being targeted, seduced by a nice looking guy, kidnapped, and thrown in a prison cell until it’s their time to fight. Then, two by two, the women are forced into an arena and required to battle to the death in an effort to keep a loved one alive. If a contender loses her life in the fight, the event organizers put a bullet in her husband, child or parent’s head.
While talking with director Josh Waller and stars Zoe Bell, Tracy Thoms, Rebecca Marshall and Doug Jones in New York City just before the film’s world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, Bell laughed and recalled, “I remember at one point we were all sitting around the table and I was like, ‘You know this Hunger Games thing? Is it bad that that’s similar?’” She continued, “One person said, ‘No, it’s a maximum budget, different sort of genre,’ blah, blah, blah, and then someone else said, ‘I don’t reckon that movie’s gonna do any good anyway.’”
Waller joined in and admitted, “There was some stuff that popped up and then I read Hunger Games and I was like, ‘Okay, there’s definitely similarities.’” However, that all changed once the Hunger Games movie came out. Marshall pointed out the level of realism in Raze compared to Hunger Games and that’s definitely one of the major divides between the two movies.
The Hunger Games does do an exceptional job at making its alternate reality feel very authentic, but when it comes down to the killing, let’s be honest, not every tribute can die with a swift bow to the chest or be conveniently shielded by mutts as he’s being torn apart. Should any of those tributes have had to engage in a one-on-one fistfight, the only way for one to come out on top is if they went at it like the ladies in Raze.
Then again, as the group pointed out, Raze is a hard R. Should two Hunger Games tributes engage in some hand-to-hand combat, it’ll probably look far tamer than what’s shown in Raze. Just imagine what it would take for one woman to kill another in a tiny room with a dirt floor, brick walls and zero weapons. What these women do to each other will make Cato’s quick snap of the neck seem merciful.
Even for someone with a taste for big-screen violence and carnage, Raze can be tough to watch. The appeal of the high concept is there, but when someone in Raze loses her life the stunt choreography and Waller’s shot selection shows exactly how it might play out in the real world, and the visuals can be extremely unsettling. So, Hunger Games fans, if you’re considering catching Raze in an effort to hold yourself over until Catching Fire arrives in November, heed Thoms’ words: “If you think you’re gonna see Hunger Games, it’s not the same thing at all. I understand that if I give you the quick synopsis how you would think so, but no.”
If you do think you’re up for this fight to the death, keep an eye out because even though the film’s Tribeca Film Festival run has come to an end, it’ll likely pop up at more festivals down the road. For now, check out Thoms, Waller, Bell, Marshall and Jones talking about Raze’s connection to The Hunger Games, Bell’s bloody past with costar Rachel Nichols, the physical demands of their roles, and more in the video interview below.