Review: To Your Last Death (2019)
Animated horror movies. We don’t see too many of them outside of imported anime, and even then, they have a tendency to cross over into hentai territory. To Your Last Death is one of the rare exceptions, an American made animated horror feature.
Miriam (Dani Lennon, The Shasta Triangle, Bite Me) is the sole survivor of the killing of her family. For some strange reason, nobody believes her story about her wealthy father Cyrus (Ray Wise, Tone-Deaf, Batman: The Killing Joke) planning to kill her and her siblings. When she’s left alone she’s visited by Gamemaster (Morena Baccarin, Deadpool, Batman: Bad Blood), an alien who offers her a chance to go back and save them.
Sent back to the moment when they arrive at Cyrus’ office, she tries to warn them that the dying Cyrus intends to take them to the grave with him. But Kelsy (Florence Hartigan, Phoenix Forgotten), Collin (Benjain Siemon) and Ethan (Damien C. Haas) don’t want to hear it. They may hate their father, but they’re much more invested in believing they’re getting an inheritance. Can Miriam change their fates?
Director Jason Axinn and writers Jim Cirile (Hawk’s Vengeance, Banned) and Tanya C. Klein have come up with a film that could be described as an animated installment of the Saw franchise with a science fiction twist. Cirile got his start in film working on the late Roberta Findlay’s last three movies, which may explain some of the film’s cynicism and gleeful sadism.
And To Your Last Death contains plenty of both, as aliens pit humans against each other as part of a game show. With the added ability to warp time and replay events depending on the audience’s reaction. Or do they? It seems Miriam has a history of mental illness.
Overall, the film is a very mixed bag. Ray Wise is great as the voice of the insanely wealthy arms manufacturer Cyrus DeKalb. A totally evil bastard who beat his wife and kids and has never forgiven them for ruining his chance to become Vice President. Or for being gay, or a host of other perceived failings. William Shatner (Devil’s Revenge, Star Trek) and Bill Moseley (Exorcism at 60,000 Feet, Crepitus) both do well in cameos as The Overseer and Pavel, one of Cyrus’ goons respectively.
If you’re a fan of the Saw films, then you’ll love the various traps and games that await the characters. Not being a fan of torture porn, they didn’t do a lot for me, although I have to admire the thought that went into them.
On the other side of the equation, To Your Last Death uses rather limited 2D animation, This isn’t particularly good. It resembles an early episode of Archer, only worse. It actually reminded me of the old cartoons like Clutch Cargo that used to be on in reruns on weekday afternoons when I was a kid.
My biggest problem though was with the story itself. The concept is certainly interesting, but To Your Last Death falls short in the execution. Since Gamemaster can change any outcome at any time, the characters have no real control over their fates. They also seem to have little control over themselves either. Personalities as well as actions can change on a whim as well. Which makes it hard to connect with the characters or get involved in the story.
Given the number of awards it won on its festival run, the film obviously has its fans, but it didn’t really work for me. If you’re looking for some gory set pieces and animated boobs, then To Your Last Death should be just what you want. However, if you’re looking for a satisfying horror film, it’s probably going to fall short.
To Your Last Death will be available on Blu-ray October 6th from Quiver Distribution. It’s already available on digital platforms. You can check the film’s Facebook page and website for more information.