APRIL 21, 2014
Many of the best slasher movies were the result of producers trying to cash in on a trend or starting with anything but a story first (Friday the 13th famously began life as an ad just to secure the cool sounding title), so while I dislike such approaches to filmmaking in general, I can't really knock Death Do Us Part on that alone. As the producers happily tell us in the making of piece, they had a location and wrote a movie around it, put together cheaply just to get something done while waiting for other projects to come to fruition. It's a slap in the face to storytelling, but at least they're honest about it. Some of that cynicism of course bleeds into the project, since you can tell no one involved had any real passion for slasher movies, but it's kind of fun in its own way, and ultimately the movie is too harmless to get into too much of a fuss about.
Plus it inspired a good point made by someone on Twitter, after I commented that nearly every modern slasher movie involves infidelity among the group - in this movie's case, the bride-to-be's fiance is nailing her sister (something the sister insists doesn't end after the wedding - hot). The theory was that simply having sex isn't a big enough "sin" anymore, the way it was in the slashers of yore where, as Randy would clarify later, "if you have sex, you die". It's the '10s now, so we gotta make it more complicated, and admittedly if folks are having an affair it makes more sense for them to go off into the woods without telling anyone. So maybe this is the case, but if so - is it worth it coming at the expense of instantly hating two of our alleged heroes? Who can possibly feel sympathy for a woman who is banging her sister's husband/boyfriend? I think Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter handled this sort of thing perfectly, with that one guy kinda flirting with one of the twins, pissing off Sarah (Judie Aronson, whom no man would ever even consider cheating on, but whatever) so she takes off, and then the guy comes to his senses and goes after her, giving Jason the chance to kill them both. That keeps us from really hating any of them, and you still get the desired effect.
That said, there's another thing that always bugs me in these sort of things, which is someone saying that they should wait until sunrise and go for help. I guess the logic is that if it's light they'll see the killer coming, but come on - Jason always took down someone during the day (a few of them in the remake, actually), and even Michael Myers has racked up a kill or two when the sun was still up. Usually the plan is announced and that's that, but here, another character shouts "He's not a fucking vampire! He can still kill us when the sun is up!" Not only is it a funny line, but it offers up the logic for them to keep running around in the dark, keeping us assholes in the audience from questioning it. These folks may not care much about slashers, but they're at least smart enough to think about ways around their lapses.
However, they do bungle one thing pretty good, and you should skip this paragraph if you're not a very astute viewer, because maybe their attempt at a twist will work on you. See, it's one of those "we start the morning after all the killing" movies, with the survivor telling their story, and I'm pretty sure every one of these has resulted in the storyteller being the killer, so we're already primed to figure it out. But they curiously avoid showing the person's face, obscured by her wedding veil, and thus anyone paying enough attention would probably (and correctly) discern that the person telling the story isn't the bride, but one of the supposed victims. It's something that would totally work on paper, but on-screen, it's just too damn distracting that we can't see her face. Plus, with only three women in the cast, it's not even a surprise which one it is, since it's not the bride and the other one is definitely killed rather quickly (though I guess some weirdo cross-dressing thing would be hilarious and inspired).
And by quickly I mean relative only to the other deaths, as the movie takes forever to start offing these jerks (well, most are jerks; one of them is nice to the point of sounding psychotic). I think we're like 50 minutes in before the first strike, which is an eternity in slasher movie minutes. Even stranger, the killer has a mask (a burlap thing, kind of like Cronenberg in Nightbreed) but they almost never show it, or him/her - the kills are largely off-screen, which is the sort of thing you do when, you know, the killer is just walking around as themselves, like the first Friday the 13th (which at least had a hand or something). Not sure what their thinking was behind this decision, but it's a baffling one - just like their pained attempts to make the creepy caretaker look like the killer. The genius of Scream (name-checked in the making of) is that they make Billy so obviously look like the killer that he "can't" be, making it a legit surprise when he is - but these folks opt to even go so far as to have their red herring actually chase one of the heroines at one point, just so it'll be a "surprise" when he turns up dead.
But it's functional, and it's rare to see a slasher in the woods movie with adults instead of the usual college kids (even if they still ACT like college kids). The actress playing the sister was quite attractive, and even if it was oddly paced it never really bored me (I kept getting amused by how much the guy clearly hated the woman he was going to marry). Plus Aaron Douglas shows up in the wrap-arounds, always nice to see that guy. And even if none of its plot twists actually worked, I gleefully enjoyed watching everyone turn on each other in gloriously over the top fashion (one, angry about not being appreciated, proceeds to brain the offender with a rock as sad music plays). Also: it's shot in Canada instead of Louisiana like every other low budget horror movie made these days, so there's something. Basically, it offers the bare minimum, but that's still more than you get on the average Anchor Bay release as of late - most of them I can't even get the energy to write about, so kudos to team Death Do Us Part! You inspired me to meet a quota.
What say you?