Every year there is at least one horror movie that, in a weird and specific way, becomes very dear to me. In 2017, it was The Bye Bye Man; in 2018, it was a little gem called Sleep No More; last year, both Polaroid and Nereus had such an impact on me. Can you guess what all these movies have in common? Exactly, they’re all “so bad, it’s good” horror flicks! Now, I found that kind of experience in To Your Last Death, an animated action-horror flick directed by first-timer Jason Axinn.
After a brief festival run in 2019, To Your Last Death hit VOD on March 17th – I rented it on iTunes: please, do the same if you want to embark on the mystical experience that is To Your Last Death! I was genuinely looking forward to his flick, as I’m a big fan of R-rated animated movies. On top of that, To Your Last Death has kind of an all-star cast: Morena Baccarin (!), Bill Mosely (!!), Ray Wise (!!!) and William Shatner, Captain Kirk himself (!!!!). As you can imagine from reading this short prologue, To Your Last Death is not a good movie, therefore I will spoil some aspects of it to make my review more entertaining. You have been warned!
Continue reading this SPOILER review and check my final grade…
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To Your Last Death – plot and sub-genre(s)
The movie begins with Miriam (Dani Lennon) joining her three siblings (a metal-head, a homosexual guy and a prostitute… no, I’m not joking) to meet their dad (Ray Wise) who’s one of the top managers in an evil corporation. As soon as they get there, their father sentenced them to death – like, immediately! – and only Miriam manages to escape. She’s taken to a hospital where, after the detectives interrogating her don’t believe her story, a supernatural entity (the Gamemaster, played by Morena Baccarin) gives Miriam a second chance. The young woman is sent back to the past and has now a chance to save her siblings: will Miriam and her brothers and sister be able to defeat the mercenaries at her father’s disposal?
At the start of To Your Last Death, the movie seems to belong to a kind of weird sci-fi/supernatural horror sub-genre. Soon after the Gamemaster visits Miriam in the hospital, our main character finds herself in the midst of… a zombie apocalypse?! What? Why? Anyway, that doesn’t matter, because she manages to run away from guards and zombies in the facility, so that she can save her siblings from the evil father. Despite Miriam knowing what will happen once her and her siblings meet their dad, they all get captured anyway. Here, the movie switches genre again: this time, we find ourselves in a Saw-like gory “torture porn” scenario, where the main characters get need to escape from needlessly complicated and absurdly over-the-top traps. Towards the end, To Your Last Death decides to become a surreal horror flick where everything looks warped and weird.
From nonsensical to unpredictable
One of the worst aspects about To Your Last Death (and, simultaneously, the best thing about it) is that nothing in the movie makes any sense. For example, the main reason for the villain to kill the siblings is that they shamed him publicly by saying that he wasn’t fit as President of the company… what? Is this for real? In fact, he’s so pissed at them that, while pronouncing his death sentences, he accuses his oldest son of being “a disappointment, because he’s gay and epileptic”. What?! Did someone really write this dialogue?
Yet, towards the third act of To Your Last Death, the siblings who survived up until that point start killing each other for no reason. On top of that, new characters pop up out of nowhere, protagonists change their motivations like it’s nothing, the Gamemaster constantly plays around with the rules she set up at the beginning. It’s a disaster, obviously, but in a way it made the movie completely unpredictable and hilarious to watch!
Acting and animation
Another aspect that stands out is the voice acting, which is terrible by itself, but it gets even worse when paired with the ugly-looking, cheap and edgelord-like animation style. The famous actors who, for some reason, appear in To Your Last Death just read their lines like they want to go home: they’re there to get a pay cheque and leave, nobody cared about this movie, which kind of makes it hilarious. The lesser-known actors, instead, are totally miscast: the muscly, hyper-macho characters are played with a very high-pitched voice; black characters speak in an overly stereotyped manner that’s borderline offensive; the prostitute character is voiced by someone who sounds like a 12-year-old girl, which is both funny and uncomfortable.
The animation, though, is next-level bad. Should I elaborate or do you get an idea from the pictures below? That’s what I thought…
In conclusion, To Your Last Death is an astonishingly bad movie that doesn’t fully understand how film works. This, however, makes it an extremely enjoyable and unintentionally funny experience. Also, this doesn’t feel like a cynical product: you can tell the director had a small budget, yet he tried his best to make To Your Last Death into a decent movie.
Despite the effort from some of the people involved, though, To Your Last Death barely features any element of quality. The fact that it’s “so bad it’s good” not only saves it, though, but it makes it very rewatchable: I actually can’t wait to invite some friends over, buy some booze and have a great time with the movie!
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