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Death of Me
The first half hour or so of Death of Me is promising. Vacationing couple Christine (Maggie Q) and Neil (Luke Hemsworth) awaken in their Thailand hotel room with bitchin' hangovers and no memory of how they got back the night before. The room is covered with dirt, the couple's clothing and toiletry items are strewn about everywhere, and the news reports that a deadly typhoon is approaching the island. The couple tries to hightail it back to society but finds themselves without passports and very much out of luck at the ferry terminal. Back at the compound, travel photographer Neil begins scrolling through his pictures to see what the hell happened the night before. He and Christine initially are drinking at a local bar, where they are offered a mysterious shot by one of the servers. Cut to a disturbing video on Neil's phone that appears to show him have sex with then murder Christine somewhere outdoors. Insert the film's title card here.
That's a pretty intriguing premise that Death of Me manages to largely squander during the next 60-some minutes. Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, who helmed several films in the Saw franchise, the movie draws a lot of inspiration from The Wicker Man and feels oddly similar to last year's much-better Midsommar. See, the video here is pretty creepy, but the film's exploration of the "why" surrounding it is very much less intriguing. Christine begins coughing up dirt, experiencing hallucinations of strange rituals, and is suddenly aware that she is wearing a necklace she does not recall receiving. The couple searches for the bartender who served their cocktails and struggles with the language barrier. The owner of their accommodations, Samantha (Alex Essoe), arrives to provide advice and is not suspicious at all.
To my knowledge, Thailand is not a country rife with pagan, ritualistic cults, so the whole storyline here is kind of bewildering. Actually, a lot of things in Death of Me are puzzling. It feels like Bousman adds in certain scenes of hallucinations and ritualistic exploration in an attempt to drum up a suspenseful mood. It never really works, and, despite a solid performance from Maggie Q, Christine is simply left to wander around the local village without direction. The whole "outsider in a dangerous land" storyline has been done to death, and the endgame here is not earned. There are so many interesting elements - the typhoon, the video, the bartender - that never come together to form a cohesive whole, which is disappointing for this slipshod mystery.
No surprises here. The 1.85:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image from Lionsgate is bright, clear and nicely detailed. Close-ups reveal abundant facial details, and landscape shots offer crystal-clear views of the gorgeous scenery. Black levels are appropriate, shadow detail is abundant, and contrast is kept in check. Aside from some minor aliasing, this image looks quite good.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix handles the proceedings with ease, providing an often-immersive surround experience. Dialogue is crystal clear and integrated appropriately with effects and score. Some of Christine's hallucinations allow for interesting sound pans and LFE feedback, and a couple of action effects are quite startling. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
This single-disc release is packed in a Blu-ray eco-case that is wrapped in a slipcover. A digital copy code is included. The sole extra, Island Magic: Making Death of Me (23:13/HD) offers some interesting insight into the production.
A few intriguing tidbits early on cannot save Darren Lynn Bousman's murky thriller from getting bogged down under its own inability to pick its adventure. Maggie Q does her best to navigate through ritual terror in Thailand, but Death of Me is ultimately a dud. Skip It.
William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.