A friend was talking about expectations of seeing seeing a low budget film, and commented ‘I’d expect, at least, a Hemsworth’; Chris, Luke or Liam, all flavours of Hemsworth are available for your viewing pleasure, and this time around it’s Luke, matched up with Maggie Q for Darren Lynn Bousman’s derivative but effective horror/thriller. If, like me, you felt that Midsommar would have worked better at half the length, then Death of Me’s brisk 94 minutes gets you through most of the same plot points but with a lot less in the way of pretention, and that’s reason enough to give it a spin.
Christine and Neil (Maggie Q and Luke Hemsworth) are two tourists on something they call a ‘vacation’ on a small island off Thailand; there’s a storm coming, but the locals are unperturbed, mainly because they haven’t felt the impact of one for 200 years. The couple do shots in a busy bar on their last night on the island, and she’s given a necklace as a gift; the next morning they wake up in disarray. What happened the night before is a mystery, doubled when footage on her phone reveals Neil murdering Christine…
I’m no great fan of Bousman, a horror director best known for his work on the Saw franchise, but he brings a high gloss to proceedings, which progress much as you’d expect. Anxiety, distrust and panic give way to a realisation that pretty much everyone the couple meet have got nefarious plans for them, in a manner that harks back to the Wicker Man’s human sacrifice. Along the way there’s two or three moments of ‘look away’ gore, including a live disembowelling that would put you off your dinner. But Hemsworth does well with an under-written role, and Maggie Q diggers deeper than might have been required to convey Christine’s horror at her sudden sense of jeopardy.
From 2006’s Turistas/Paradise Lost to Hostel, the ‘white people abroad as prey’ trope is a familiar one, and picks up on our latent casual racism towards cultures that we don’t understand. It’s a grubby but effective strategy that takes our fear of ‘the other’ and applies it specifically to other cultures. Death of Me is no ground-breaker, but horror fans will find that this well-made shocker delivers just enough in nasty shocks and foreboding atmosphere.
Thanks to Signature Entertainment for access to this title.
Signature Entertainment presents Death of Me on Digital HD and DVD in the UK from November 23rd