Family Game

"You should stay away from them, my dear, unless you want problems."

And no one wants problems. 

Well, problems are exactly what you get when The Arsenaults, a family of illegal poachers, are involved in your life.  Témiscouata, Quebec simply isn’t prepared for the dysfunction they bring to the proverbial table, especially when Anthony (Pierre-Paul Alain) comes home from prison and takes all hope away from his older brother Adam (Guillaume Cyr) of getting out of the family business.

"a strong entry into the whole dysfunctional family sub-sub genre of thrillers"

Written and directed by Rafael Ouellet and set in the Bas-Saint Laurent region of Quebec, this atmospheric thriller presents viewers with two sides as each closes in on the other: the criminals and the cops.  The idea here is that both sides have a point of view and, thankfully, we get strong performances in this drama to keep our interest alive in what happens.

Also starring Karine Vanasse, Jason Cavalier, and Ted Pluviose, Family Game is a strong entry into the whole dysfunctional family sub-sub genre of thrillers, yet there’s an underlying bite to much of it which comes from the tension built up through these illegal situations the family is caught up in.  Yet, everything is sparked when Émilie, a compelling radio host, arrives on the scene.  Suddenly, the close-knit family begins to fray.  Something is coming undone between them and an unsettling darkness settles in, corrupting the already compromised morals of the family.Family Game

With a twisting narrative, Family Game packs a literal punch thanks to the family at the center of this drama.  Their lives have always revolved around the illegal selling of meat.  None have dared dream higher, which is why Adam’s plight here is so important: he dares to pull the family into a legitimate business.

But that darkness which surrounds them is damned unshakable.  Much like the setting of the movie, there’s a beauty here that is unquestionably untamed.  Yet, the sense of what’s right and what’s wrong and the definitions provided here are certainly weighted with plausibility. 

Will you play this Family Game?  It is now streaming on digital platforms thanks to Dark Star Pictures.

3/5 stars

Film Details

Family Game

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
120 mins
: Rafaël Ouellet
Rafaël Ouellet
Guillaume Cyr; Pierre-Paul Alain; Karine Vanasse
: Crime | Drama
Crime is in the Blood
Memorable Movie Quote:
Dark Star Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 12, 2023
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: The Arsenaults are illegal poachers, selling wild meat out of the back of the family-owned garage. Older son Adam wants to get out of the criminal enterprise and run the business clean, but his plans change when Anthony -  his more criminally inclined younger brother - returns to town from prison.


Family Game