Making a home invasion thriller or a chamber piece horror flick is a hard task to tackle. It may look like it is a simple film because they do not need a big budget to craft, however, handling its structure and screenplay while keeping it tight, riveting, and captivating is tricky. Although S.K. Dale’s directorial debut Till Death is not the best example of this, he manages to construct a sustainable nail-biter.
Emma (Megan Fox) is stuck in a self-drowning and decaying marriage to Mark (Eoin Macken). On their 10th anniversary, he surprises Emma by taking her to a private lake house for a romantic evening as they did in the past. Things start to change after she wakes up handcuffed to her husband’s dead body. Dangerously freezing temperatures outside keep her trapped, scared, and secluded even after learning that this was only the first step in Mark’s devious plan and that hired hitmen (Jack Roth & Callan Mulrey) are on their way to finish her off.
As the expression goes: “till death do us part”. In this film that does not apply as Emma is forced to literally drag around her husband’s dead weight. That works as an homage to Gerald’s Game (2017) and a commentary on freeing yourself from the tethers of an abusive relationship. It also takes inspiration from movies like Misery (1990) and David Fincher’s Panic Room (2002). Albeit I think these are better than S. K. Dale’s picture, the sense of claustrophobia and terror in plain sight are effective throughout its entirety.
One of the most surprising aspects of the film is Megan Fox. She has been typecasted her entire career and her roles in blockbusters have been butchered by poor scripts. With Till Death, we get to see her in a new light, as a competent action lead. Fox has already worked within the horror genre with the cult classic Jennifer’s Body (2009), which in my opinion is underrated, and uses it as a basis to draw her character out more.
At times it is too on the nose when it comes to its dramatic arcs and expositions, therefore it could be conceived as a bit silly. Some of them do work, like the previously mentioned “dragging of the dead weight”, but the rest of them seemed to be obvious ways to carry out this type of story. Of course, it needs to have those stirring moments for us to care about the character and it succeeds at it; yet it feels like those moments are delivered quickly just to get to the good stuff, which are the thrills. When you take away the survival facet, there’s not much to hold on to.
The cat-and-mouse game mixed with pulsing deliverance is what keeps the viewer glued to the screen. As I mentioned before, this does not bring anything new to the table nor is it the best in the subgenre, nevertheless, it has enough thrills and suspense to cover its 88-minute runtime. Megan Fox being a badass and well-constructed set-pieces with a sliver of nastiness are what makes this a good popcorn flick, unfortunately, the film still suffers from being a bit repetitive and from writing that, especially in the more dramatic scenes, still needed some polishing. Flaws aside, it is still worth the watch for fans of the subgenre.