Darren Lynn Bousman, who likely is best known for Saw II [2005] and recently St. Agatha [2018] delivers an interesting horror film, something that’s been missing from the landscape of the genre, it combines themes from The Serpent and the Rainbow [1988] and The Wicker Man [1973] while using folklore and hints of foreign countries urban legends, I note this since it was actually filmed on location in Thailand. The filming in Thailand, while beautifully exotic did prove a challenge, which we’ll discuss a tad later and provides aspiring filmmakers some real-world lessons. I must warn of two things, first I will try to avoid spoilers and second the film never references a religion, philosophy or culture of the people, it maintains a respectful distance from reality and keeps it all focused on the storyline being told as it is distributed from Saban Films.

If you have ever awoken in a state of utter puzzlement, whether it was from a hangover, or even severe sickness, unsure what your actions were, what you did bits and pieces is all that exist in your memories, then that is what is occurring early on Death of Me. We have a married couple Christine and Neil portrayed by Maggie Q (Slumber [2017]) and Luke Hemsworth respectively who can’t remember anything from the night before, but that’s just one of many, aside their Airbnb bedroom looks like ransacked and they are scrambling to flee the island because of approaching warnings of a hurricane. There are a few curious things occurring, namely no one on the island is panicked about the storm rather some odd celebrations and parades, in over 200-years the location seemed protected from the storm’s destruction. However upon arriving at the ferry, Christine lost her passport and then their luggage supposedly gets placed on the boat causing more arguments and panic; yet through all of this Neil still focused more on his job as a travel reporter.  For the experienced horror film viewer, it all leads to the hidden reference of the three u’s uncomfortable situations, uneasy tensions, and uncertainty about one’s situation, while it is true that a fourth ‘u’ does exists it doesn’t have factor, which is unholy.  Once returning to their room, they look at their camera for hints to help them with the chaos unraveling before them, and there to their horror exists – oops almost gave it away. Darren makes a point to slip in incredible audio elements to make the viewers uneasy using cryptic chants and distorted natural island sounds. Fret not the story, contains some nice blood splattering moments, delightful gore, disturbing hallucinations and misdirection, one should note the character Samantha (Alex Essoe (Homewrecker [2019])) she truly seeks to help Christine find her way through a careful unwrapping of a mature story arc.

The writers for the project tend to drift in the horror island cliché department a tad too frequently, rather than allowing the mystery to arise, similar to Knives Out [2019] , then film with Darren’s abilities could have propelled wonderful tension, none of that sadly happens. We are left with repeated scenarios and visuals, while injecting minor characters to stumble the actors into the next scene, it had the ability to achieve some interesting character discovery versus insanity in the first act, but falters it quickly. Darren did face some challenges in filming in an exotic location, namely the personnel and extras, but more importantly the language, the vagueness or colloquial phrases as well as commonplace slang and aggressive words, needed to be toned down while also explaining a scene or design in vast detail. Hint to the filmmaker when in doubt, hire someone familiar with the culture, customs, it allows for a smoother production as well as less headaches.

There’s one thing I feel all horror fans can agree, these movies need to instill fear or the mere suggestion of it, when it comes the topic of traveling there’s an abundance of rules and films, however excelling that to overseas destinations and increase uneasiness. The Ruins [2008], Hostel [2005], or Indigenous [2014] where one becomes ignorant of the customs, languages, and often clinging to our passports, all lead to interesting horrors, within this film some similar tropes, although Darren wisely ignores how the situation arose and focuses on the unknown consequence of them, thereby wrapping the viewers in knots trying to understand the mystery.



IMDb Rating: 4.3/10

Baron’s Rating: 4.5/10