[Screen It]


(2020) (Maggie Q, Luke Hemsworth) (R)

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Suspense/Horror: Not remembering what happened the night before, an American couple vacationing on an island off Thailand tries to piece together what happened after seeing a video of the husband apparently murdering and then burying the wife.

Christine (MAGGIE Christine) and Neil Oliver (LUKE HEMSWORTH) are an American couple vacationing on an island off Thailand at a small rental place run by American ex-pat, Samantha (ALEX ESSOE), who lives there with her young daughter. The couple wakes up on their last morning unable to remember the events from the night before but don't have time to retrace their steps as they're very late for their ferry off the island.

Missing that, along with their passports and now their luggage, they wait for the next ferry later in the day and try to piece together what happened. And what Neil finds on his phone is truly horrifying. And that's a video from the night before where the Americans were served mystery drinks by their waitress, Madee (INGKARAT (KAT) JARASWONGKOSOL), ended up affected by the hallucinogenic properties and then had sex outdoors. Followed by Neil seemingly murdering and then burying Christine.

But with her being very much alive, albeit with bruises on her neck and a brief bout of vomiting up dirt and grass, the couple can't believe the video evidence. From that point on, and enlisting the help of Samantha along with tattoo artist Kanda (KELLY BRONWEN JONES) to try to find Madee for answers, Christine and Neil try to figure out what's going on and what might next happen to them, especially with a typhoon bearing down on the island.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10

Although I'm still appalled that it ever happened -- especially since any number of things could have happened at that moment -- I'm glad I only had one instance in my life of blacking out from having too much to drink. It was in college at a sorority dance in the winter where the event room was way too hot and I was drinking whatever was cold in an effort to cool off while wearing my suit and sweating to death.

Unfortunately, my coolant of choice was rum and Cokes and I apparently consumed them so quickly that I went from hot and sweaty to waking up in my dorm bed the following morning, with no recollection of anything that occurred between those times. Thankfully my girlfriend at the time was with me, and later my roommate, so I didn't do anything too embarrassing (or at least so I was told) and certainly didn't break the law.

Of course, I have to take their word and the lack of any police involvement for that as it was long before cell phones and their ability to record things you might not remember after an evening of imbibing.

All of which leads us to "Death of Me" where married couple Christine (Maggie Christine) and Neil Oliver (Luke Hemsworth) wake up in their Thai island rental room, her in bed, him face down on the floor, initially seemingly dead, but she manages to rouse him. Neither can remember what happened, and the blood and dirt on them raise some obvious questions. But they've overslept and don't have time to think as they race to catch their ferry off the island, only to just miss it due to their passports and other identification now being missing.

With time to kill until the next ferry, the couple tries to piece together what happened. As luck would have it, video on his phone reveals the partial history of what transpired -- drinking at a local restaurant, a pretty waitress mixing them some sort of mystery drink with hallucinogenic effects, then them having sex outdoors followed by Neil getting rough, strangling, snapping the neck of, and then burying Christine. All of which I'm guessing is going to make for an interesting review of the spot on Tripadvisor -- "Had a great time until my husband killed and buried me. Would recommend skipping the local mystery cocktail. And being a zombie"

With Christine very much alive - or is she? -- but supporting bruises on her neck and the occasional propensity to vomit up dirt and grass, she and her decidedly less than better half then try to figure out how any of this is possible and what the locals know about and might be responsible for as related to that. Oh, and there's a typhoon headed right at them.

As directed by Darren Lynn Bousman from a script by Ari Margolis, James Morley III, and David Tish, the suspense-horror flick certainly arrives with an intriguing premise along with plenty of potential for how things could play out and what the ultimate explanation might be especially as Christine continues to suffer from occasional hallucinations.

Unfortunately, the latter come off a bit too much like a storytelling crutch to keep viewers off-balance and guessing as the filmmaker waits to drop the big explanatory reveal. And when that finally happens, it simply doesn't have as much impact as all involved presumably hoped, what with similar things having already been experienced in films such as "The Wicker Man" and "Midsommar."

Maggie Q gives a solid performance as the confused protagonist but can only do so much with the material as presented. Hemsworth (brother of Chris and Liam) is less successful as he can't rein in the character that's written all over the board (in hopes of taking advantage of the "is it all a hallucination?" setup). Supporting performances from Alex Essoe and Kelly Bronwen Jones are okay but likewise hampered by the material.

At least the pic is pretty as it acts - when people aren't dying and horror images aren't flashing across the screen - as a travelogue of sorts for the tropical paradise where this was shot, although the lush imagery loses its chromatic vibrancy as things unfold.

Is it bad enough that I wish I saw it in a drunken stupor and couldn't remember it the next morning? No, but with plenty of wasted potential and missed opportunities, "Death of Me" isn't as intriguing, engaging or scary as the premise might suggest. It rates as a 4 out of 10.

Reviewed September 28, 2020 / Posted October 2, 2020

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