Review: Death Of Me

Year: 2020
Runtime: 93 Minutes
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman
Writers: Ari Margolis, James Morley III and David Tish
Stars: Maggie Q and Luke Hemsworth

By Mique Watson

On paper, this latest flick by Darren Lyn Bousman sounds terrific. It’s essentially “The Hangover 2” meets “Rosemary’s Baby”–in tropical Asia! We’re touring the spiritual locales with Christine (Maggie Q) and her photographer/journalist husband Neil (Luke Hemsworth). We first meet them waking up after a wild Friday night. Neither can seem to remember the happenings that had transpired the evening prior–though one thing is certain; Christine’s passport is missing, and without it, neither can get back to the mainland. What ensues is two-thirds of an interesting film; interesting setup, disastrous finale. 

The best part of the film is Maggie Q’s vivacious, tormented performance. Though one can’t help but notice the very gendered nature of the violence inflicted upon her. For some reason, the violence dealt out to Christine is far more sadistic and sexual than whatever Neil suffers. That, coupled with the very gendered nature of this violence; the torment she endures would never be foisted upon a man.  What makes it all the more risible is that her character doesn’t actually do anything to be punished; as a result, we have no clue what the film is trying to say. What does Christine’ character learn here? Oh, here’s where things started to rub me the wrong way big time. 

Maggie Q and Luke Hemsworth in Death of Me (2020) | Photo credit IMDb

“The best part of the film is Maggie Q’s vivacious, tormented performance.”

Bousman’s trademark grit and lyric B-movie editing are maintained and contrasted with the vast, lush, rainforests of this remote Thai island. The waves ebb and flow as the surface of the ocean serves as a mirror to gloomy, overcast skies. There’s nature and mist as far as the eyes can see; the tall trees cast suffocating shadows on our hero and heroine, and the tension is palpable…until it isn’t. What begins as a semi-intriguing mystery devolves into a misogynistic, xenophobic hodgepodge of recycled ideas and a foreigner’s understanding of Thai festivals (sort of what Ari Aster did for Midsommar, but far less stylistic). Our inciting incident here is the moment when our central couple attempts to seek answers regarding what had happened the night before. Neil goes though the contents of his camera and finds a two-and-a-half hour video…it ain’t pretty. 

The best part of the film is Maggie Q’s vivacious, tormented performance. Though one can’t help but notice the very gendered nature of the violence inflicted upon her. For some reason, the violence dealt out to Christine is far more sadistic and sexual than whatever Neil suffers. That, coupled with the very gendered nature of this violence; the torment she endures would never be foisted upon a man.  What makes it all the more risible is that her character doesn’t actually do anything to be punished; as a result, we have no clue what the film is trying to say. What does Christine’ character learn here? Oh, here’s where things started to rub me the wrong way big time. 

“Although Bousman manages to draw an expressive performance from his leads, his direction of the locals is appalling.”

Maggie Q and Luke Hemsworth in Death of Me (2020) | Photo credit IMDb

Who is inflicting the torment, you may ask? Well, here’s a hint: our protagonists are on a remote island in Thailand with literally no other tourists but them. So, as they attempts to get themselves out of this sticky situation (and get to the bottom of what the hell was on that video camera), they’re met with Buddhist potions, ritualistic pendants, and the least helpful Airbnb (Alex Essoe) hostess one could ever (not) hope to stay in the accommodation of. Also: sociopaths, and they’re all (mostly) homegrown and ready to kill! 

Although Bousman manages to draw an expressive performance from his leads, his direction of the locals is appalling. Not one person outside the couple registers as a human being with actual motivations. When we’re regaled on the reason behind Christine and Neil’s physical and psychological torment, we can’t help but think that “yep, Becky, a tourist definitely made this picture”. The third act is such a disjointed mess. It comes as to surprise to me that this flick had three screenwriters behind it (Ari Margolis, James Morley III and David Tish); more cooks in the kitchen does not a good Pad Thai make!

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