"THE POKER CLUB"
DVD Review
by Kevin Carr


    MOVIE: ** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)

    STARRING
    Loren Dean as CURTIS WILCOX
    Lori Heuring as JAN TYLER
    Johnny Messner as BILL
    Judy Reyes as DETECTIVE PATTERSON
    Johnathon Schaech as AARON TYLER

    Rated R
    Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

    Directed by: Tim McCann

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT
A group of friends gather every week for a game of poker. It’s been a tradition for years, and they have always used it as a well to relax and let off some steam. However, one night when an intruder breaks into the house, the fun game turns into a nightmare. The intruder is killed, and the friends plan to hide the body. The next day, they learn that someone is seeking revenge, attempting to frame the group for a new murder and even attacking them with violence.

WHAT I LIKED
There’s a certain dread that comes with any movie like there. Who can’t say that they have found themselves in odd situations that escalate beyond anything we’d ever expect. Sure, most of our situations don’t end up in the murder of a burglar and the disposal of his body (at least we hope they don’t end up this way). Still, this kind of film should get you to wonder what you’d do in a similar situation.

The initial idea on which this story is hung is decent enough, although the execution of that story has a bit to be desired. Still, there is some nice eye candy with Lori Heuring as the estranged wife and Jana Kramer as the has-been and would-be homewrecker... and the fact that several scenes take place in a strip club helps things along.

Having been a fan of Judy Reyes for her work on “Scrubs,” I was glad to see her show up in a movie outside of the comedy genre. She really should get better roles in Hollywood.

WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
A movie like this may provide a nice “what if” contemplation for buddies who get together for a weekly poker game. However, it does stumble when the characters do things that are downright stupid. The way this group of guys handle themselves throughout the movie drains away any sympathy I had for them.

First, it’s never fully explained why the death of an intruder is so potentially damaging to them. It was a burglar, after all. Then, when the group disposes of the body, they make a spectacle of themselves in front of a deputy and don’t even dispose of the body that well. Ultimately, the characters don’t think, and they act on these impulses.

There is a strained relationship between the lead character of Aaron (co-writer Johnathon Schaech) and his wife, which is revealed in a choppy, awkward manner. Many twists and turns are laid into the plot surrounding this relationship, but even when things are revealed, not everything makes complete sense.

“The Poker Club” is based on a book, but I imagine that quite a bit got lost in translation from book to script to final film.

DVD FEATURES
Director Tim McCann and writer/actor Johnathon Schaech lend their voices to a commentary track on this DVD.

WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Direct-to-DVD thriller fans.

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