DEATH OF ME: Mystical & Terrifying

Darren Lynn Bousman is perhaps best known for directing three Saw sequels as well as next year’s eagerly anticipated Spiral: From The Book Of Saw. Before Spiral is unleashed onto the world, Bousman brings us Death Of Me, a mystical, Thailand-set thriller.

A Storm Is Coming

Starring Maggie Q and Luke Hemsworth, Death Of Me follows a married couple on a holiday of their dreams. They both wake up with a killer hangover on their last morning and discover a disturbing video in which Hemsworth’s Neil seems to violently kill Q’s Christine. They end up missing their flight and are stuck on the island and not to make things too easy for our couple, a storm is approaching.

DEATH OF ME: Mystical & Terrifying
source: Saban Films

The premise is a fascinating and disturbing one. At the centre of Bousman’s film is a mystery, a puzzle; how can Christine be standing here, walking and talking, when a video shows Neil snapping her neck and burying her? Christine starts coughing up the earth, supporting the theory that she spent the night six feet under, but Neil vows he would never do such a thing. Can Neil be trusted? Or perhaps the islanders are manipulating and drugging Christine? Death Of Me is a film that doesn’t allow you to trust anyone as a viewer. Everyone suddenly seems more than a little suspicious and Bousman instigates a paranoid atmosphere throughout his film.

Why isn’t Maggie Q In Everything?

Q and Hemsworth have wonderful chemistry and often elevate the script when it seems a little basic and uninspired. Their marriage has a lived-in quality to it, they feel at ease with each other. Especially Hemsworth just radiates reliable dad-energy. Arguably the least famous of the Hemsworth brothers, he once again proves his abilities here as he did in HBO’s Westworld.

DEATH OF ME: Mystical & Terrifying
source: Saban Films

Q is simply sublime, portraying Christine’s confusion and growing fear for her safety as well as her distrust towards her own husband convincingly and with nuance. While Christine is constantly on the receiving end of all kinds of abuse, Q never plays her as a hapless victim, but a woman caught in extraordinary and terrifying circumstances, attempting to navigate her way out in one piece. Q acts with ease and confidence, constantly negotiating Christine’s visions as something simply in her head and something true and disturbing.

Bousman injects a decent amount of gore into Death Of Me and while this is at times a terrifying film, Death Of Me works best as a taut thriller. While the film lags at times, especially in the middle when there isn’t much for our characters to do, Bousman directs the film’s tension admirably and with relative easiness. The film’s focus is firmly on the characters and works well, especially when Bousman wants to shock the viewers; our emotional bond with Neil and Christine makes the events even more terrifying.

Problematic Or Simply Interesting Plot Device?

Bousman really ups the ante in the film’s last third when more of the film’s secrets are revealed. Writers David Tish, James Morley III and Ari Margolis manage to bring in tragic elements to the otherwise quite traditional narrative. Shot on location in Thailand, the film looks lush and gorgeous, but Bousman also utilises different colour palettes to command the mood and overall tone of his film.

DEATH OF ME: Mystical & Terrifying
source: Saban Films

Ultimately, the story drops two westerners in the middle of a Thai island, who are then caught up in the village’s age-old traditions. However, their Airbnb is owned also by a westerner, played by the wonderful and creepy Alex Essoe, who claims she is much happier and healthier on the island than she ever was in western civilisation. While the film never crosses into completely offensive territory, it is yet another story about two Americans stuck in a strange land and subjected to the natives’ horrifying traditions. While the religion portrayed in the film is loosely based on a real one, the film is heavily dramatized, at the expense of real people.

Death Of Me: Worth dying for?

As pure entertainment, Death Of Me is absolutely fine and certainly interesting in its portrayal of faith and religion. The upcoming, potentially disastrous storm creates a fascinating motif and acts as a ticking clock for our characters. While Death Of Me ultimately doesn’t seem to have much to say, it’s a fun way of spending 90 minutes. Q and Hemsworth are great as the leads, especially Q who has a somewhat meatier scream queen role here, but similarly to Blumhouse’s Fantasy Island, the film isn’t quite worthy of her talents.

Death Of Me promises good things for fans of the Saw-franchise as it reminds us that Bousman is incredibly capable of mixing mythology, lore, and story while mixing in effective gore without ever going too far. An entertaining little thriller, Death Of Me also has great re-watch value, thanks to its impressive production design and foreshadowing.

Did you enjoy Death Of Me? Did its mysteries fascinate you? Let us know in the comments!

Death Of Me is In Theaters, On Demand and Digital October 2nd. 

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