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John’s Horror Corner: Till Death (2021), a mildly thrilling thriller starring Megan Fox as an unfaithful wife dragging around her dead husband as spiteful penance.

October 17, 2021

MY CALL:  With better writing and more honed direction, this could have been much better. But as it is, this is a mildly thrilling thriller aiming all its attention at Megan Fox… who accordingly seems to be the punching bag of all this film’s criticism.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Till Death: Gerald’s Game (2017) and You’re Next (2013), which both did it better.

Having been a while since I’ve seen Megan Fox in horror or anything serious, I was nervous yet optimistic for her. As we meet our protagonist Emma (Megan Fox; Jennifer’s Body), she is caught between two men. One an affair with Tom (Aml Ameen; The Maze Runner, Evidence) that she breaks off the eve of her anniversary; the other her strained, cold marriage to Mark (Eoin Macken; The Hole in the Ground, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter). But when her anniversary weekend at their remote lake house in the winter leaves her handcuffed to her now dead husband, her love life is ever more complicated than before.

Watching Emma drag her dead husband around the house with his massive headwound while wearing his bloody clothes is not as awkwardly amusing as I’d hoped. It’s cheeky, sure. But it needs help to carry the scenes. Emma talking to herself throughout the process could also be funnier, but it’s not bad. If anything, what I find truly funny here is how unreasonably elaborate this revenge plot is. You’d think Mark was a disciple of Jigsaw in one of the later Saw sequels with all his little posthumous recordings and notes and how he rigged the lake house so extensively in such a short period of time.

Not only is Emma condemned to lugging around her dead husband, but the phones are out, and her terrifying past arrives for its pound of flesh in the form of someone she sent to jail years ago—Bobby Ray (Callan Mulvey; Shadow in the Cloud) and Jimmy (Jack Roth; Rogue One). Now that her hunters have arrived, the stakes are raised and I’m enjoying her now-more-urgent spouse-dragging more. Moreover, the filmmakers do a good job of creating a convincing cat and mouse chase in such a small venue with some clever timing and hide and seek shenanigans. When Emma is forced to fight back, what little we get is generally well-done and very credible. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very exciting and I wanted something more shocking to come of it.

This movie steadily gets better as you watch it. Sure, the opening scenes spinning all the relationship drama was very dry. But with each 15-20 minutes that passed I noticeably found myself enjoying this more, while also seeing more interesting writing and filmmaking decisions realized before me. Still, I feel sharper writing would have helped this movie a lot.

Megan Fox did well enough with what she had, and the story comes to a satisfying ending. I feel like most people who didn’t care for this movie readily and unfairly blame Fox—but I’d argue that no one in the film gave a “better” performance than she did. And sure, she had some rough line deliveries in the opening scenes (which felt very, very, very forced by the writer and director)… but they were also rigidly performed by her co-stars who simply had less screen time and fewer lines. The writing and directorial experience just wasn’t there.

I had hoped that director S. K. Dale’s first feature film would be Gerald’s Game (2017) meets You’re Next (2013). But to think that would nurse greater expectations than anyone should have. This movie is just good enough to not regret watching it. I wouldn’t really recommend this. But it’s a perfectly “just good enough” popcorn evening of entertainment.

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