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Till Death (2021) - Movie Review

Till Death (2021) - Movie Review
6 10

PLOT: Trapped in a marriage to an emotionally abusive lawyer, Emma gets tricked into spending the night at their remote cabin. Her life gets complicated quickly when she's left handcuffed to her dead husband with no way of getting help.

LOWDOWN: Emma (Megan Fox) is having an affair with Tom (Aml Ameen), who also happens to work under her husband Mark (Eoin Macken), an esteemed attorney. Within the first minute of meeting him, we know he's an asshole. Being disappointed that Emma isn't wearing his favorite red dress to their anniversary dinner, he dickishly replies, "It's okay. We still have time to stop by the apartment and change." A man with money and power, Mark is the type of guy who gets what he wants and won't take no for an answer. We don't know much about their relationship, except he helped put a violent mugger who attacked Emma behind bars and that he's acting suspicious about the "special" event he has planned for the evening. To no one's surprise, after a somewhat romantic night where there's a hint of progress in their strained relationship, she wakes up in bed handcuffed to Mark right before he blows his brains out.

In a mix between Gerald's Game and Panic Room (minus an actual panic room), Till Death (WATCH IT HERE) is a genre mishmash that aims to offer a unique spin on the home invasion subgenre. Spoilers ahead, as some aspects of the story, may come as a surprise, and I'm not here trying to ruin the experience for anyone. If you've read the IMDB synopsis or watched the trailer, you know that not only is Emma cuffed to her dead husband, but she also has to deal with two killers that want her dead and the diamonds they were promised for doing so. I'm always down for a mental exercise in survival that comes with being handcuffed to a corpse. But to toss in a duo of serial killer/robbers is icing on the cake. Plot-wise, I'm already, sold and all Till Death needs to do is deliver on the goods. The question is, how does director S.K. Dale and writer, Jason Carvey's tale of survival, hold up? Eh, not great, I'm afraid. But like a 4 am bar, even at its worst, there is always an element of fun. So let's tackle what works before we dig into what doesn't.

I must give credit to Till Death as it's one good-looking movie that does wonders for its baron and cold cabin location. As a midwesterner, I have a deep-seated resentment and respect for the snow, and any time a thriller sets itself in it, I can feel the struggle firsthand. Not only does Emma need to drag around a 200-pound dead body, but the heat's cut off, and she's left with nothing more than a nightgown. S.K. Dale does excellent with spatial awareness and sets up the layout of the house and its many rooms early on, which comes back to taunt Emma throughout the runtime. The execution is slick, and the vast white land surrounding the cabin gives the audience a sense of almost ironic claustrophobia. There's so much space but nowhere to go.

The biggest issue with Till Death is that there's a good movie in here somewhere. Still, every plot beat happens because of a character making a foolish decision, like leaving the only cell phone in the car that's not parked as close as possible or making the villains unable to hear clearly or see peripherally. I like Megan Fox and wish she delved into the genre more. Jennifer's Body is criminally underrated and a damn fine horror entry from the 2000s, but she is woefully miscast here. This may be an odd argument, but Fox too stoic for the character of Emma. She never comes across as broken or in over her head. Not only can she move a limp grown man around like it's a heavy pillow, but she never seems too worried either. The situation comes across as more of an annoyance than anything else. If her arc were becoming tough through struggle and perseverance, then I'd understand and respect the transformation, but that's not this. Me digging out my car in the middle of December is more emotional than anything Emma goes through here.

It's either by the grace of God or just to move the plot along that Emma makes it more than forty minutes after her husband's suicide. The struggle of moving the body is the focal point for a chunk of the film, and though she seems to move it easier than I would assume, the physical labor is the torture her husband intended it to be. But once the killers arrive, the body becomes nothing more than a kettlebell. The cat and mouse game can only work when we believe one can hide from danger and move about stealthily, but Fox gets around with such ease I wonder what the point of having her attached to the body was?

I'm all for a heavy dose of suspension of disbelief when warranted, but Till Death doesn't aim for exploitation or even a stylized thriller but a grounded tale of a woman moving a dead body around to avoid detection. The physical aspect would take someone like The Rock to get around as quick as Emma does, and the noise factor never comes up. Walking in snow leaves tracks and makes noise. Dragging a body would give your location away within minutes. Now, if this cabin was Bly Manor or something of similar size, sure, but clearing the whole house, garage, and boat dock should take no more than five minutes with two people in decent health.

GORE: We get a couple of bloody scenes, and the suicide doesn't hold back, but Till Death is more about the suspense than the gore.

BOTTOM LINE: Till Death isn't a terrible watch, but it isn't great either. With moments of exciting action and a great look throughout, one can find this mildly entertaining on a Saturday afternoon, probably best viewed in the winter months. More reminiscent of a bygone era of cheap thrillers on DVD, This has its place, and I'm not going to argue that. I just think that the concept is ripe with potential, and seeing that wasted is always heartbreaking.

Till Death Is Available In Theaters And On Demand July 2nd

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