If you’re thinking of options to fill your 31 nights of Halloween this month, it would be wise to put Death of Me at the bottom of the list, if at all. A startlingly tedious effort from director Darren Lynn Bousman, who’ll hopefully bringing a better game when Spiral (no, not that one) eventually rolls around, here we get a holiday from hell starring Maggie Q and Luke Hemsworth that is dead on arrival, failing time after time to revive itself.
Kicking things off, Q and Hemsworth play not-so-happy couple, Christine and Neill, who awake the morning after the night before with their hotel room in a state, and no memory of what’s happened. After missing the boat home, they’re forced to extend their stay until the next ride off the island arrives in the evening, leading them to sit and retrace their steps to figure out why they’re in such a mess. As it turns out, after leaving a dodgy back alley bar full of locals and drinking some questionable recommendations the night before, Neill actually strangled Christine to death before burying her. So why is she up and about? Distrust (shockingly brief as it is) turns into a woefully dull run around the island as the two try and figure out what’s what. Why is Christine coughing up dirt and snakes? Why is she having visions of folks with their mouth stitched shut? Why isn’t Neill feeling really bad about kind of, but not really killing his other half? All these questions and more will be answered in a slow and unappealing fashion as this tale unfurls like a damp holiday towel you forgot to hang out on the hotel balcony.
Let’s start with the key couple, who have absolutely no chemistry at all and are asking all the wrong questions after learning one attempted to kill the other. The opportunity to give the story any interesting elements, involving testing their relationship and self-doubt, is cast into the sea (literally at one point). Instead, it’s Maggie Q wandering around the local area, trying to break through the language barrier as a hefty dose of misrepresentation of the Thai community sees them all staring with crazy eyes and waving flags for a festival of mystical relevance. Pulling from the same vibes as the likes of Midsummer, Pet Semetary and The Wicker Man (the latter is even referenced, as if owning up to it will absolve the filmmakers), it lacks the remotest semblance of tension or terror as Christine wanders deeper into the history of the island, when she should’ve really ran it through Trip Advisor.
Instead, the real horror comes from our heroine ‘trusting’ anyone she speaks to, drinking anything that’s given to her, and seeing how many times she’ll pass out and wake up elsewhere. Between this and Maggie Q’s other lacklustre horror Fantasy Island, no actress has drifted in and out of consciousness this many times on film since Carrie-Anne Moss entered The Matrix. As for Luke Hemsworth, he’s a shell of a support for his partner who appears to lack any concerns regarding the issue at hand, or the horrific crime he may have committed. What happens in Thailand, stays Thailand, apparently.
The supporting cast have little or no affect on the film either, with no effort to hide the fact their characters should definitely not be trusted. Alex Essoe (soon to be appearing in The Haunting of Bly Manor and recently played Wendy Torrence in Doctor Sleep) is clearly giving it a go, but checks all the boxes of a person to be wary of, as the holiday home owner with connections to the island. The same can be said for Kelly B Jones as local tattooist, Kanda, who almost has a chance of being interesting until the film decides otherwise in a truly unsurprising fashion. It’s the one of many woefully bad ‘twists’ and turns Death of Me makes throughout its drawn-out 94 minute slog. We’re dragged down narrow streets and small unforeboding villages, hoping that the boat or Christine’s fate will arrive sooner rathe than later. In the end, you’ll have felt more afraid of your luggage being overweight at a flight check-in than you will of Death of Me.