It’s always an added bonus when a horror film does something a bit different. Whether it’s a concept or just a setting, the ability to differentiate oneself can sometimes make a real difference. Such is the case with Death of Me, which could easily be described as “The Hangover but horror” in broad strokes, but also adds in the locale of an island paradise. The end result is a fright flick that’s sometimes hit or miss, but does just enough right to warrant a mild recommendation. Out today, it’s an effective way to begin to get into the scary spirit of Halloween.
The movie is a horror offering, of course. Taking a relaxing vacation on a small island off the coast of Thailand, husband and wife Neil (Luke Hemsworth) and Christine (Maggie Q) are initially having a wonderful time. On the final day of their trip, they both wake up with a massive hangover and no memory of the night before. Christine also has a strange necklace that she’s suddenly wearing. Puzzled, they’ve lost their passports, as well as her phone, preventing them from getting on a boat home. Stuck for at least another day, they discover recorded footage on Neil’s camera that horrifies them. Apparently, after consuming a strange concoction, Neil appears to murder and bury Christine. With 24 hourss until the next ferry comes, as well as a typhoon bearing down on the island, the couple try to reconstruct the night’s events, hoping to make sense of it all. What they discover includes black magic, murder, and a mystery that’s bigger than they ever could have expected. Terror ensues. Darren Lynn Bousman directs a screenplay by Ari Margolis, James Morley III, and David Tish. Mark Sayfritz composes the music, while Jose David Montero handles the cinematography. Rounding out the cast is Alex Essoe.
Darren Lynn Bousman and Maggie Q make the difference here. The former brings a confident and solid director’s eye to the material, while the latter makes for an effective and emotive scream queen. Bousman is obviously best known for his work on three Saw sequels (as well as the upcoming Spiral: From the Book of Saw, which is now hitting screens in 2021), so he’s no stranger to the genre. The latter, however, is an underrated actress who really leans into the material. They’re both able to paper over some of the script issues at hand, as well as the somewhat bland turn from Luke Hemsworth.
Death of Me does have a somewhat janky script, which is on writers Ari Margolis, James Morley III, and David Tish. They have some solid elements, like not making the locals into caricatures, but that could also be credited to how Bousman films things. That being said, Margolis, Morley III, and Tish do fall into a lot of cliches, which Bousman’s direction can’t fully sidestep. There’s lulls in the plot, seemingly to pad out the 94 minute running time. Basically, the writing is not on par with the direction, nor the lead actress performance. Those elements lift up the scribes and end up saving the day for the movie.
Now playing in theaters, On Demand, and on Digital, Death of Me will satisfy horror fans, especially if you like the idea of The Hangover as a fright flick. The film is far from great, but it’s a solid single up the middle, for those of you enjoying the Major League Baseball playoffs right now. It’s fair to want a bit better, but considering how much worse it could have been, this is a fair trade-off, at least for yours truly…
Be sure to check out Death of Me, available in theaters, On Demand, and Digital October 2nd, which is today!
(Photos courtesy of Saban Films)