An American couple has the vacation from hell in Death of Me, the latest horror flick from Saw franchise director Darren Lynn Bousman. The film is chock full of gruesome imagery and blood, but sadly lacking any real scares. A decent first act establishes a compelling mystery that is quickly fluttered away. The narrative then devolves into standard genre tropes with cardboard characters and a gratingly annoying score. Death of Me becomes an absolute chore to sit through.
Christine (Maggie Q) and Neil (Luke Hemsworth) wake up in a state of confusion. Their vacation villa is in complete disarray. They are disheveled and covered in dirt. Christine clasps a strange amulet around her neck. She has never seen it before. Neither of them can remember the events of the previous night. The television warns of a powerful typhoon barrelling towards the small Thai island. They decide to leave on the next ferry.
The arrival at the ferry reveals another problem. Their passports are missing. Christine notices the island natives are treating her with a strange deference. They are told there is another ferry the following day. None of the islanders express any concern for the typhoon. The island hasn’t been hit in hundreds of years. The couple return to their villa and make a shocking discovery.
Neil had previously uploaded a video to the television’s memory. It shows him brutally strangling Christine, then burying her body in a hand dug grave. They are both horrified. Christine runs to the bathroom in abject fear. Neil swears to her it cannot be real. She is clearly alive. Neil embraces his terrified wife. The video has to be a hoax. They must do everything possible to return to the mainland before the storm arrives.
Death of Me has an interesting initial premise. The protagonists are a foreign couple in a strange place in a freaky predicament. Anyone would be scared silly after watching a video of their own murder. Their actions after discovering the recording makes zero sense; especially when they begin to experience grotesque hallucinations. The couple are obviously in a dangerous situation. But instead of using common sense and an ounce of self-preservation, they behave like foolish teens running blindly into the woods. My willing suspension of disbelief can only go so far.
Darren Lynn Bousman gives up on the mystery too early. It becomes easily apparent where the story is going. The clues are broadcast in neon spotlights by Bousman’s editing choices. He switches the focus from building tension to graphic violence. This is done purposely because it’s expected. Genre fans expect to see blood, guts, and torture from this director. The plot did not have to be sacrificed for a carnage quota. Psychological terror is just as effective. The best horror films marry both tactics.
Death of Me is a frightless and futile experience. The awful soundtrack was the only thing that raised my blood pressure. I may have liked it a smidgen more with the captions on. Horror fans should check out 1973’s The Wicker Man for a great film with a similar plot. Death of Me is a production of Samuel Marshall, MFC, and Envision Media Arts. It will be available October 2nd on demand and in limited theatrical release from Saban Films.
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