"Gatlopp" is the Swedish word for "gauntlet," and in a newly-released horror comedy of the same name, a group of old friends are reunited for the first time in years -- and forced by an innocuous-looking board game to run a gauntlet. If they don't finish the game -- which springs to life and throws dark, hilarious, larger-than-life challenges at them -- they will all be trapped playing the game forever...in Hell, of course. One of those friends is Sam, a young woman played by Emmy-Raver Lampman, who finds herself trapped with some people who used to be her best friend...and trying to decide whether she's willing to die with them if it comes down to it.
That dynamic was part of what made the script so appealing to Lampman. She told ComicBook.com that it's more fun, and challenging, to put herself into that headspace than to just play the typical sitcom group of friends who have been joined at the hip all the way up until the game started.
"That is one of the biggest things that drew me to this movie, was the dynamic between this group of friends," Lampman said. "Their relationship goes back a couple of decades but there's been a huge gap and they all, at this point when we meet them, have something to hide, and there's this anxious, slightly chaotic energy, because they're all trying their best to keep the secrets that they have. And then slowly as the movie goes, that all starts to unravel and their walls start to break down a bit, the more they're being put into these extreme scenarios. There has to be this grounding essence, that they all have this chemistry of being what used to be a very strong group of friends, but that's not where we meet them, and I like playing with them not being comfortable in their skin when the movie starts anymore."
That also means the stakes feel a little more real. In a comedy, it can be hard to sell life-and-death stakes, but in the case of Gatlopp, a long separation from the other characters means nobody's life would be significantly changed if they simply never heard from the other players again.
"That's so true!" Lampman laughed when we pointed that out. "There's not a ton of loyalty in the room at the moment, and it's been essentially 8 years that they've all been estranged, and they've learned to live without each other at this point. They don't rely on each other, and there's a lot of trust that's been lost, so it's true that it's a little bit more like all bets are actually off. It makes it all very unpredictable; you don't actually know where any of them stands with the other. If their lives were on the line, would they save their own skin, or try to also save their friends?"
The title itself, along with its wild premise, makes the movie feel weird, almost indie. Of course, the other alternative is that you could take one look at the trailer and think "Gatlopp" is just a strange word applied to a living board game -- like Zathura or Jumanji.
"Jumanji was one of my favorite movies growing up," Lampman said. "So a drinking game for friends that comes to life and starts wreacking havoc on their evening was really exciting. Short of having animals run into the house, I think [Jumanji] was a great guiding light for the absurd situations that these characters are going to find themselves in."
One of the big challenges in a film like Gatlopp is exactly how big and broad an actor can go before the movie starts to feel unreal. After all, it's a pretty self-evidently surreal and silly premise, so where is the line?
"I definitely think in a movie like this you have to lean into the absurd," Lampman said. "It's asking for that, and I think if you shy away form it, it's not going to deliver the punch that Jim and Alberto were looking for. I think luckily this movie also has some really incredible grounding moments. We spent a lot of time trying to make sure that the highs were high and absurd and ridiculous and funny and got the laughs and just out of control and we hit all of those notes, but then when it did call for the humanity of these characters and the lessons and the themes that the movie is trying to touch on, that those scenes were incredibly grounded and realistic and authentic and true to what all of these characters are actually going through individually. The sky is the limit, but you also have to remember where the ground is."
Gatlopp is now available to buy on digital platforms.0comments