I grew up with the Saw series. As much as I prefer and love the first, I still returned and watched every other iteration that Darren Lynn Bousman brought us. And I was genuinely sad to know that Spiral was delayed because I was excited to see him return to the franchise. I might have lost some of that excitement during Death of Me because uh, this movie ain’t it bud.
Bousman’s Death of Me follows Christine (Maggie Q) and Neil Oliver (Luke Hemsworth) are on a business trip to Thailand that doubles as a vacation. This is odd, but it’s not brought up in any synopsis of the film that Neil is there to either document their trip, or to take photos for travel magazines, it’s kind of picked up at random points and forgotten. The night before they’re meant to go back home, they get blackout drunk and barely remember the night before. After trying to leave but are unable to find either passports, they return to where they staying and stumble on a video on Neil’s phone where Neil kills Christine and buries her. And then, end of cold open, cue title card, and the first of many eye rolls.
The film finds Christine and Neil trying to find their passports and get home while a whole bunch of other things are happening before a typhoon hits Thailand, or before she dies. Again, I guess.
Death of Me is a mess. As I stated earlier, it makes me end up second guessing my love for the Saw franchise. It’s always clear that some of the big-budget sequences for Saw and most MCU-like films are usually done prior, through previz. By the time the cameras officially roll, everyone knows exactly what they’re supposed to do, and sometimes, because they’re so pre-determined, they’re done by the second unit. Is Darren Lynn less than a journeyman director? These are a few of the questions that ran through my mind during the 90 minutes that felt like 150.
Speaking of 150, the film reminded me way too much of Midsommar (who uses their run length of 148 minutes and makes it feel so much shorter). Both have characters travel to a “foreign” land (to them) to both take hallucinogenics and learn about the culture. Then, there seems to be a festival that is geared to the women lead, that might or might not end in death. At one point, Neil also refrences The Wicker Man, which is a reference point for Midsommar. The thing is, Death of Me doesn’t have a grasp on grief or any real substance. Darren says that the film, and a lot of the films of his career is about religion, faith and people’s belief system. And yeah, sure. A bit of a blanket statement, but if that’s the one you chose, go for it.
Neither characters are likeable, and quickly into the film, I realized I was neither really curious as to the why’s, nor if she’d get out alive. Or, “alive.” And the script feels like it needed an extra draft or so to clean up the dialogue. “This is the part where I tell you not to go in.” “This is the part where I don’t listen.” But where’s the part that I care?
I will be there to see Spiral opening day, and I pray (ha, belief systems) that it is as good as the trailers make it seem to be. Until then, oof.
DEATH OF ME will be available In Theatres, On Demand and Digital October 2nd.