Death of Me (2020) Dies a Slowly and Painful Death
Updated: Dec 26, 2021
Title: Death of Me
First Wide Release: October 2, 2020 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Writer: Ari Margolis, James Morley III, David Tish
Runtime: 94 Minutes
Starring: Maggie Q, Luke Hemsworth, Alex Essoe
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
On the morning of their final day of vacation, a young couple, Christine and Neil (Maggie Q, Luke Hemsworth), wakes up with no memory of the night before. They have no time to process these events because they are late to leaving for home. Their island vacation has been mostly relaxing, except for this strange blackout of the night before, but things continue to get worse when they lose their passports and cannot board the ferry to the mainland, which is coincidentally carrying all their luggage all the while arguing with seemingly inhospitable locals. They decide to extend their stay until they can figure out their situation. Unfortunately for them, the odds of either of them leaving the island without a fight are slim.
Death of Me has plenty of interesting ideas that fizzle out due to disjointed direction, a terrible script, and overacting.
My initial intrigue turned to disillusionment about ten minutes into Death of Me. Its premise is ripe for so many interesting and nightmarish scenarios which makes the ultimate product so disappointing in the end. The most frustrating aspect of Death of Me is how convenient everything is made to be.
Singlehandedly the most egregious sin the film makes is allowing the couple to record their night out. I’m aware that without this information there is no film, but with it, the film makes no sense. If the islanders have such sinister [and premeditated] intentions for the duo, why would they risk that to let them film the ritual? Not only that, but now we have to devote an entire subplot of the phone being stolen and the video erased from the camera roll to further pad the runtime.
Beyond this central issue, there are many smaller instances where it just doesn’t make sense. The rules of death in this film don’t add up and are inconsistent, basically depending on what the film needs to do to drive the plot along. Within the last ten minutes or so, we see this issue grow to extreme heights and ultimately ruin what could have been a satisfying ending.
Big names and genre stars can’t save this film. Maggie Q, Luke Hemsworth, and Alex Essoe, especially Essoe, are so off in their delivery. All of their characters come off as unlikable and uninteresting in the worst ways. We also don’t really get to know them much at all and the film tries to make up for this with exposition dumps of poorly constructed dialogue. Christine and Neil make so many bad decisions that it defies realism. I’m not saying they deserve to die or anything like that, but they don’t exactly inspire sympathy with how they treat those around them or their general lack of situational awareness.
There’s not much to say about its technical qualities either. There’s a myriad of weird editing choices that make the film feel disjointed and clunky. Hallucinations play like flashbacks and vice versa, it’s hard to keep track of what exactly is going on here. Some of the effects look really cheap, almost as if they were done in a high school play and not done by a film starring relatively known actors and a director who has made several successful movies.
The worst part of Death of Me is the waste of talent and potential the project holds. From the involvement of all three leads to the director who is capable of much more than this, Death of Me feels very amateur. Its concept is interesting enough, but the execution is horrible, especially with its plot development and cringeworthy dialogue. Easy to pick apart in minutes, Death of Me doesn’t play by any rules, even its own. Overall, it’s a generic horror in paradise film that is neither scary nor entertaining, which is disappointing given the potential it had. I don’t recommend this film. It’s certainly not the biggest slog of a film I’ve sat through, but it’s no closer to paradise either.
Overall Score? 4/10