Review by Sean Boelman
Horror film Darren Lynn Bousman made a name for himself as the director of three Saw movies, having taken over the splatter franchise from originator James Wan. However, those looking for an equally gnarly flick in Bousman’s newest film Death of Me will be sorely disappointed, as this is little more than an underwhelming mystery with a few bursts of brutality.
The movie tells the story of a young couple on vacation who wake up with no memory of the previous night, only to discover a video that shows one of them killing the other. It’s an intriguing premise, and had the three writers been legitimately interested in answering the questions they present, it could have resulted in a compelling thriller. Instead, they spin a web of red herrings about the mythology of a fictional island.
Viewers will be hooked early on by the sense of intrigue of trying to figure out what is happening, but once it becomes clear that the film has something else in mind, it will quickly lose interest. A couple of shocking moments in the final act, including one particularly nasty image, prevent the movie from being a total waste of time, but aren’t enough to be particularly entertaining either.
For the most part, the film looks rather cheap. There are a couple of scenes with impressive practical effects that deliver on the movie’s promise to be disturbing. Otherwise, much of the film is very heavy-handed. The score and production design, for example, both stand out as elements that are over-the-top and ridiculous.
Interestingly enough, the movie starts as a commentary preaching the benefits of modern technology. This comes with some xenophobic side effects as the film suggests we should be more afraid of the “uncivilized” people of this island. But then heading into the final act, the movie takes an unusual turn, becoming a parable about consent, and it’s a very surface-level message.
The character development in the film is also nearly non-existent. We are supposed to buy into this relationship because they are struggling since they are having troubles conceiving, but that is a very conventional and predictable foundation. And all of the supporting characters are flat and stereotypical as can be.
And while both of the lead performers are obviously trying their best, the dialogue is so stilted that their delivery couldn’t possibly feel naturalistic. Maggie Q’s performance isn’t terrible, with some decent emotion, particularly in the final act, but Luke Hemsworth gives a turn that is very lackluster.
Death of Me was probably never going to be a great movie, but it at least could have been more edgy than it is. It’s sadly a pretty boring film with a few good moments that should have been expanded upon significantly.
Death of Me is now in theaters and on VOD.
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