Till Death (2021) Review
It doesn’t seem like that long ago that Megan Fox was starring in the Transformers franchise, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Jennifer’s Body. Now she’s starring in Machine Gun Kelly videos and Till Death, a low-budget variation on Gerald’s Game. Hoping her taste in scripts was better than her taste in music I pressed play.
Emma (Megan Fox) is married to Mark (Eoin Macken, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter) who’s gone from prosecutor to sleazy defence attorney. How sleazy? He freely admits he’s happier making big money keeping scum like Bobby Ray (Callan Mulvey, Shadow in the Cloud, Beyond Skyline), the man who mugged and nearly killed Emma out of jail than he was working hard to put them away. Innocent, guilty, who cares as long as they pay? Needless to say, it’s not the happiest of marriages.
On a weekend getaway to mark their anniversary, Emma wakes up to find Mark has handcuffed them together. Then, as she watches, he shoots himself in the head leaving her in the frozen middle of nowhere chained to a corpse. And Bobby Ray, who of course holds a grudge for her going to the police, somehow knows where to find her.
First-time feature director S.K. Dale and writer Jason Carvey (A New Wave) does a nice job of setting the stage in Till Death’s opening act. You can sense there are issues between them from the start, even without the usual screaming and yelling used in situations like this. The quietly cold tone of voice and a few understated comments convey the situation. And one nicely dropped clue tips us that there’s more than we think going on.
A good part of Till Death’s midsection, it only runs seventy-five minutes, is a one-woman show. In a nice touch, Emma uses her wedding gown as a sled to drag the corpse around as she tries to get help and/or free herself. But Mark has planned this carefully, making sure she has no way to call for help as well as hiding the knives or anything else she can use to detach his hand.
We also learn his motivation for all of this. It probably won’t come as a surprise. I can’t imagine killing myself over it, let alone going to this kind of extreme for revenge. His use of the word “disobedience” in the message he left her is quite telling as to why he might. Then in Till Death’s last half hour, the final part of Mark’s plan falls into place as Bobby Ray and his brother (Jack Roth, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Bohemian Rhapsody) show up.
At this point Till Death goes from a sort of horror film to a more conventional thriller. Emma has to battle the freezing weather as well as two criminals who want her dead as well as the contents of the house’s safe. It’s nicely done if a bit familiar in its execution. Thankfully the filmmakers chose to keep the running time down, rather than padding it out past the point of believability and/or tedium.
There are a few of the usual moments where you need to suspend your disbelief, but with one exception they’re not as bad as many films of this type. It helps that Fox is surprisingly credible as the woman forced to overcome tragedy as well as fight for her life. The result is a decidedly enjoyable thriller that’s better than several of her bigger-budgeted films.