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A-Ron’s New Movie Reviews: “Death Of Me” (2020)

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Maggie Q stars in her second horror film of the year that takes place on an exotic island. After going to “Fantasy Island” back in February, Maggie Q stars in horror director Darren Lynn Bouseman’s painstakingly lifeless “Death of Me”. It’s a movie that takes a fresh idea and presents it through a bunch of tropes and clichés assembled from better horror films. Bouseman takes inspiration from Asian horror, “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Wicker Man”. But there just isn’t anything about “Death of Me” that compares to the movies that Bousman tries to replicate. The script by a trio of writers is one of those cases of just having too many cooks in the kitchen. The writers sabotage all of the potential and intriguing ideas that could have been explored to keep us help solve the mystery. The film goes down unexciting roads and instead decides to dive headfirst into the “scary island locals” horror trope in trying to be like other cult island movies. At multiple points, I kept wishing that the picture would rewind itself, get back to the core premise and stop being so repetitive. Maggie Q is probably the only good thing going for the movie. As she gives an effective performance in conveying the terror that she is feeling throughout the film. Darren Lynn Bousman’s would-be horror thriller is a depressingly muddled mess.

In February Maggie Q took a trip to “Fantasy Island”. She returns to another island full of mystery and horror in “Death Of Me”, from horror director Darren Lynn Bouseman. With Bouseman’s highly anticipated “Saw” spinoff “Spiral: From The Book Of Saw” delayed until next year due to the pandemic. The director of “Saw II, III & IV” and “Repo The Genetic Opera” fills in the time with his smaller budget straight to VOD (video on demand), terrifying look at the dark side of paradise.

Have you ever heard the term “Elevator Pitch” used in Hollywood? Well an elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech that you use to spark interest in a project, idea or product. A good elevator pitch should last no longer than a short elevator ride of 20 to 30 seconds, hence the name. That’s how I can best determine that Bousman’s film “Death of Me” got green lighted…by elevator pitch. The pitch was probably something along the lines of let’s make “The Hangover but make it horror”. 

Disappointingly that’s all you’ll get in “Death of Me”, a movie that takes a fresh idea and presents it through a bunch of tropes and clichés assembled from better horror films. Bouseman takes inspiration from Asian horror, “Rosemary’s Baby” and “The Wicker Man”. Bouseman uses those movies as if it’s some kind of shared language between the filmmaker and the viewer. What Bouseman and his screenwriters don’t understand is that the difference between influence, homage and imitation is vast and there’s nothing about “Death of Me” that compares to the movies that Bousman tries to replicate.

In “Death Of Me” we follow Christine (Maggie Q) and her husband Neil (played by Luke Hemsworth, the real brother of the god of thunder Chris Hemsworth), a photographer for a travel journal, have been vacationing on a small island off the coast of Thailand. On on the morning before their departure, they wake up late, frazzled and discombobulated, unsure about what happened the night before. 

Rushing to the ferry, their inability to locate their passports means they’ll be stranded another day. Thankfully, the rental property owner, American ex-pat Samantha (Alex Essoe), is more than accommodating. As they try to piece together their memories from the night prior, Neil realizes he’s recorded a video which is nearly two hours in length. As they watch it, they find Christine reacting strangely to a mysterious drink she was given in a restaurant, which leads the couple to having violent sex and ending with Neil strangling his wife to death and burying her in a shallow grave. Disturbed at what they see but unsure of how to comprehend it, they cling to a sense of normality as they attempt to get off the island as soon as possible. 

Writers Ari Margolis, James Morley II and David Tish sabotage all of the potential and intriguing ideas that could have been explored to keep us a part of the mystery. Instead of Christine and Neil solving the confusion of the video and finding clues that build to a compelling explanation to the mystery of how and why he killed her. The film goes down unexciting roads and instead decides to dive headfirst into the “scary island locals” horror trope in trying to be like other cult island movies. At multiple points, I kept wishing that the picture would rewind itself, get back to the core premise and stop being so repetitive.

While the movie is nowhere near as good as the superior and underrated “Fantasy Island”. Maggie Q should have stayed on “Fantasy Island” and skipped this trip although she is probably the only good thing going for the movie. She gives an effective performance in conveying the terror that Christine is feeling throughout the film. To keep the terror afloat, Director Darren Lynn Bousman stages several shocking, grotesque and jaw dropping moments (including one where a character literally rips their intestines out of their stomach). The shocking violence does nothing to help the film overcome just how dull and eventless “Death of Me” comes across. 

There are too many cooks in the kitchen that put the screenplay together where it feels of three different writers on a page, rather than three writers writing as one unit. It’s a script that possesses an intriguing initial premise that unravels as the lame twists multiply. At times, “Death of Me” comes across like a Southeast Asian “Midsommar”. While reminding me of Wes Craven’s “The Serpent and the Rainbow” and while I’m always up for this type of mess with my mind type movie. “Death of Me”just goes too far down that rabbit hole and the only answer it gives in terms of what is happening is a fairly lame twist near the end. The final film is pretty bad now but it’s no question that this might have been even worse in the hands of a less adept filmmaker, or maybe it could have been better? Either way I had a hard time connecting with any of it. 

Darren Lynn Bousman’s painstakingly lifeless “Death of Me”, ironically feels like a death sentence. Sure there are impressive visuals, with a lovely scenery and so is star Maggie Q, as both are photographed well by cinematographer José David Montero. All in all Darren Lynn Bousman’s would-be horror thriller is a depressingly muddled mess.

GRADE: ★1/2☆☆☆☆ (1.5 out of 5)

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About Aron Medeiros

Aron Medeiros
Aron Medeiros is the movie critic for Maui Watch. He lives on the beautiful island of Maui and is also a member of the elite Hawaii Film Critics Society and an active cast member of the NerdWatch pod cast. He is a 2003 graduate from King Kekaulike High School. His favorite film of all time is “Back To The Future”. He has worked at Consolidated Kaahumanu Theaters for nearly 13 years as a Sales Associate and making his way up to Assistant Manager. He has loved movies since he was a young boy, where his Grandfather started his love for the movies.

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