Serviceable Low Budget Siege Horror You’re Killing Me (2023) Leaves Mark
Title: You’re Killing Me
First Non-Festival Release: April 7, 2023 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Beth Hanna, Jerren Lauder
Writer: Walker Hare, Brad Martocello
Runtime: 94 Minutes
Starring: McKaley Miller, Brice Anthony Heller, Dermot Mulroney, Anne Heche
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Every day we are confronted with choices that challenge our morals and beliefs. Some people are easily swayed through threats, bribes, and the ease of indifference. There are some who refuse to capitulate when the foundation of their values is questioned.
Eden (McKaley Miller) is one such person. Headstrong and determined to get into her dream college, Eden drags her best friend Zara (Keyara Milliner) to a rager at Barrett Schroder’s (Brice Anthony Heller) home. She hopes to convince him to introduce her to his dad, who happens to be on the Admissions board of Pembrook. Her plan goes well until she learns about a certain skeleton in the family closet that endangers her life and Zara’s as well.
A tense exercise in privilege and class warfare, You’re Killing Me hits harder than its meager production values might suggest.
An unexpected twist on teen horror, You’re Killing Me delights with its first act misdirection before diving into more familiar territory. With an opening that includes concerns about getting into college, a big high school party at a rich kid’s house, and threads of the disappearance of a local girl, You’re Killing Me sets itself up on familiar path. Instead of following a typical slasher formula, this indie gem pivots into a reverse siege film where headstrong Eden and unwilling accomplice Zara must fight to leave the mansion alive. This subversion may not be intentional, it nevertheless makes the ensuing carnage much more interesting.
Eden’s persistence at doing the right thing drives the film, even when her good intentions endanger others. When first introduced, Eden gives off the impression that she would do anything to get into her dream school, which leads to her eying to spend the night kissing ass to her potential last chance to get into Pembrook in Schroder. As the night evolves, so does Eden. Going against the grain of someone who might do anything to get what she wants, Eden recognizes there is a clear line that she cannot cross. She is tested throughout the night, and each choice she makes clears her character to what may be a skeptical audience. Unfortunately, this persistence leads to others getting caught in the crossfires.
The idea that the rich and powerful play by a different set of rules is not new, and while You’re Killing Me makes it point quite clearly, it doesn’t have much new to say. Schroder is your typical sheltered rich kid with this sincere belief that his needs matter most. His parents coddle him and help clean up his messes for the sake of maintaining reputation. Throughout the film Schroder leverages Eden and Zara’s lack of wealth as a potential get-out-of-jail free card, thinking that is the only way to make things right. It’s typical. The one aspect that You’re Killing Me presents that is a bit unusual is a stronger presence of people pressuring Eden to accept defeat as a matter of self-preservation. It’s revealing to their character as much as hers, which makes for some uneasy moments.
What drags the film down exponentially is its lack of polish. Technically deficient and visually uninteresting, You’re Killing Me can be an irritating experience for those that prefer a cleaner product. It boasts a modest set design that allows the events to feel more grounded while still emanating an aura of privilege. Spartan camerawork doesn’t do much to enliven the action, especially during the moments in between the altercations. The acting varies in degrees of serviceability with Anne Hesche, Brice Anthony Heller, and Dermot Mulroney pulling out the stops to portray the wealthy Schroder family. The little things add up together to make You’re Killing Me more of a mild, one-off experience rather than the explosive fury of its storyline.
Never overstaying its welcome, You’re Killing Me delivers a solid low budget horror experience that leaves the viewer satisfied and engaged. Sure, its commentary is standard and some of the technical components leave much to be desired, but You’re Killing Me remains a tense and exciting B-movie that does what it sets out to do. You’re Killing Me if you don’t at least give it a chance.
Overall Score? 6/10