An enjoyable effort that makes the most of its simplicities
TILL DEATH (2021)
I can’t help but feel excited whenever I know that Megan Fox is involved in a project. Unfairly dismissed by the very industry that built her up, seemingly chastising her for the sexual imagery that was only encouraged by those in charge, the actress is hopefully making her way back towards the in-demand status she once held. Sure, a starring role in a Bruce Willis vehicle won’t do her any favours (the upcoming Midnight in the Switchgrass), but something like Till Death, though not getting a wide theatrical rollout, at least proves she can headline a feature and very much hold her own in a genre so often dominated by men.
Director S.K. Dale, who has predominantly made short films to this point, doesn’t exactly exercise any flair or originality in his framing, but he at least understands the thriller genre and makes the most of an evidently tight budget. Aware that there’s only so many ways to make the initial set-up of Megan Fox manoeuvring around a house with a dead body in tow interesting, he taps into the quiet stalking potential of the story and has fun in letting his actors loose, without completely losing them to overt theatricality; in fact, the early stages could’ve done with Dale trying to get a little more out of the initially subdued Fox.
At its core Till Death is a very simplistic film. The couple-on-the-rocks-going-to-a-secluded-location has been done before. As has said secluded-location-is now-the-target-of-thieving-criminals. What helps Till Death overcome its narrative is that it has fun with its set-up of both of these plot points merging together. After Fox’s no-good husband commits suicide after handcuffing himself to her - this sequence giving the dispirited film the jolt it needs - Till Death introduces a violent hurdle in Fox’s intent to free herself, with a duo of criminals breaking in - or, more so, walking in, given they’ve been in something of cahoots with Fox’s departed beau - and realising that what they are after may be more attached to her than any of them realise.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
When the film initially started I’ll admit to being a little worried as Fox’s delivery reading was particularly flat. There was no passion or inflection in her voice. Whilst this disinterested tone made sense when interacting with her husband (Eoin Macken), her side-piece (Aml Ameen) similarly gets the downtrodden treatment, leading to the idea they were involved in any type of affair a bit hard to swallow. Similarly to how the film wakes itself up once Macken literally blows his brains out, Fox’s shift towards saving herself re-energises her performance, with her lack of dialogue actually proving of benefit as she manages to express her fear and determination through her eyes and facial expressions. Callan Mulvey and Jack Roth as the criminal duo truly inject a sense of dread and unpredictability into the film as they play cat-and-mouse with Fox in the secluded, snow-covered house that she utilises to her advantage in outgunning them.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Even though the film is working on a limited budget and there aren’t any special effects per se, the way the house is manoeuvred throughout, the snow-covered ground and how Fox is able to use it to her advantage, as well as the impressive practicality in expressing Macken’s gun-wound (and an incredibly satisfying knife to the eye moment towards the climax) showcase a design team that are able to truly make the most of what was afforded.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The film truly utilises its silence in a manner that it almost becomes its own character. The score is tense when needed, and the fact that it all feels incredibly organic to what’s playing on screen is a testament to how seamless it is.
The type of film that easily could have succumbed to its B-grade mentality and not expressed as much care as evident here, Till Death, whilst flawed, is an enjoyable thriller that earns its investment after an initially sombre start. Fox, though not entirely managing a performance that transcends her impossible beauty, carries the film admirably with a grit and an occasional black comedic tint that further suggests that dark humour is her forte. Appropriately thrilling and satisfyingly violent, Till Death is an enjoyable effort that makes the most of its simplicities.
Screen Media will release TILL DEATH - July 2nd, 2021