Don Thacker

Devolver Digital has been hosting E3 games showcases since 2017, but they don’t do them like everybody else. The surrealist meta-satire psychological-horror-slash-comedy looks into the gaming industry are both hilarious and off-putting, but they are uniquely Devolver.

While catching up on last year’s showcase (just in time for 2022’s presentation), I noticed a familiar face — a face I don’t expect the average person to recognize, but one that was instantly recognizable to weird little me. Adrian DiGiovanni is the main actor of Motivational Growth (2013), one of my favorite films.

After recognizing Adrian, it all started to click for me. The fog cleared and the absurdity became intelligible. Glancing at the credits of these showcases, you will see an individual by the name of Don Thacker listed as director, the evil mastermind behind Devolver’s art pieces.

Thacker’s film career has been filled with dozens of short movies made for all sorts of different projects. In 2020, he directed a live-action trailer for Devolver Digital’s amazing game Carrion, in which you play as a rampaging tentacled blob monster that murders people within an underground base.

Carrion Live-Action

In 2015, he directed the online miniseries SOMA: Transmissions, a side project for the first-person psychological horror survival game SOMA, released by Frictional Games (the creators of the world acclaimed Amnesia series). SOMA is a game about what it means to be human. Don also released a short film by the name of Shit First, Die Later in 2018, which you can take however you please.

Tying this all the way back to Motivational Growth, the feature-length film I recognized Adrian from, the movie tells the story of a man named Ian B. Foliver (the uh… the B is for Brady) who attempts to take his life by gassing himself with a household chemical mixture in his bathtub. He presumably fails, only to wake up to a talking mold in his bathroom that gives him life advice. The mold is voiced by horror legend Jeffrey Combs of Re-Animator fame. “The mold knows, Jack. The mold knows.”

With all of these in mind, I started to recognize a pattern in Don’s catalogue of work. He seems to really enjoy exploring what it means to “be,” whether that means being a human, being alive, or being a game corporation intent on siphoning every penny out of their helpless consumers. He has a very specific type of surrealist humor, taking horrific elements and making light of them in shocking ways, the contrast creating a sense of uneasy comedic relief.

Devolver Direct 2022

So if there’s anyone you wish to blame for these ridiculous (and absolutely amazing) Devolver shows, you can point your fleshy mechanical fingers towards Don — and while you do that, please tell him thank you for creating, in my opinion, the most entertaining game trailer showcases ever made.

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