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Review: Death of Me (2020)

Darren Lynn Bousman (Repo! The Genetic Opera, St. Agatha) is a busy man. Best known for Saw II-IV, he’s racked up 22 directing credits in the last 20 years. His current release, Death of Me, is a supernatural thriller that he’s referred to as a horror version of The Hangover.

And hungover is indeed how it begins. Christine (Maggie Q, Live Free or Die Hard, Priest) wakes up with a monstrous one. Neil (Luke Hemsworth, Kill Me Three Times, Infini) is still passed out on the floor. A typhoon warning is being broadcast on the TV. Their Airbnb is trashed, and their skin looks odd. It must have been one hell of a night.

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The day gets worse, and their luggage leaves the island without them. Stuck at the dock, they take a look at the photos on Neil’s phone to jog their memories of the night before. They find a video of Neil banging Christine on somebody’s lawn. And then killing her and burying her body in a shallow grave. They have to put the pieces of the previous night together before the last ferry leaves. And before the video can become reality.

Western tourists running afoul of Eastern magic has been a common plotline at least since the American remakes of The Ring and The Grudge. The script is by Ari Margolis, James Morley III and David Tish. It’s Tish’s first credit, but Margolis and Morley have a few feature credits from around the time those films were released and nothing since. This makes me wonder if this script was originally written around then as well. It certainly feels like a product of the time.

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Regardless, Bousman dives into Death of Me with loads of energy. He sets up the situation, then he lets fly with sinister-looking strangers, strange rituals. Fragments of memories, and a strange amulet. And, as the mystery deepens, and things start to really spiral out of control that amulet is the only clue they, or we, have. Whatever is going on, it’s involved. Alex Essoe (Homewrecker, Red Island) turns up as the seemingly helpful owner of their Airbnb. She and Maggie Q play off of each other nicely as Death of Me heads into its final act. They do a good job of keeping us guessing as to their real motivations and relative levels of sanity.

And neither of those or much of anything else about Death of Me becomes clear until that final act. This is one of those films where you have an idea of what is going on, but you have to work for the details. We can tell magic is involved, but why? Did they defile a local temple? Steal the amulet as a souvenir? Or something even more sinister? The film did a good job of keeping me guessing up until the reveal. And then seeing how the last twenty or so minutes would play out. And they didn’t go the way I expected them to either, which was a nice surprise.

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While Death of Me never rises to the levels of Bousman’s best films such as The Devil’s Carnival and Repo! The Genetic Opera it’s still well ahead of The Barrens or, as far as I’m concerned, any of the Saw films. Maybe his upcoming Spiral: From the Book of Saw will change my mind about that franchise, though I doubt it.

A fun ride with jumps and some suitably gross images, Death of Me is a good choice for a Saturday night film. Saban Films will release it in theatres and On Demand and Digital on October 2nd. You can check the Saban Films Facebook page for more information.

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