Till Death. 2021
Directed by S.K. Dale.
Starring Megan Fox, Eoin Macken, Aml Ameen, Callan Mulvey, and Jack Roth.
A woman is left handcuffed to her dead husband. Unable to unshackle, she has to survive as two killers arrive to finish her off.
Emma (Megan Fox) is cheating on her husband (Eoin Macken). She is aware that it’s technically wrong and tells her co-worker (Aml Ameen) that she is done (this exchange almost feels unnecessary; whether she wants to call it quits or not doesn’t take away from her being likable, and if anything, would make the story slightly more complex if she had no intention of stopping). The marriage is clearly an unhappy one, so much so that at an anniversary dinner, Emma approaches a just engaged stranger in the fancy restaurant to give her an unsolicited reminder that there is always a choice. Director S.K. Dale’s suspenseful narrative debut feature Till Death is an allegory for the trappings of marriage, especially considering the story involves Emma handcuffed to her dead husband with no escape.
While trying to be as vague as possible about the plot since it shouldn’t be spoiled (anyone that does watch this will get maximum enjoyment going in as blind as possible), the fractured lovebirds head up to an isolated wintry setting lake house with Emma’s husband acknowledging that things have been rocky and promising that he is going to repair things. It’s something Emma doesn’t even seem to want to happen as Megan Fox’s body language says it all that she’s tethered to a wealthy narcissist. Nevertheless, they decide to make love, only to wake up in a predicament of sorts the following day.
Megan Fox is still not necessarily a good actor per see, but she makes up for dialogue limitations (some of her line readings here are rough) with a ferocious survival instinct despite immense vulnerability and a tiny stature that certainly doesn’t help having to lug a corpse around with her everywhere she goes. For some inexplicable reason, there is also a necklace so tight around her it doesn’t come off. There is a physicality to the role that she excels at, especially when more danger comes her way. It’s also pleasant that Emma is reasonably intelligent, attempting every logical thing in the book to free herself. In other words, the script from Jason Carvey is playing to the strengths and limitations of Megan Fox, pulling her in the direction of a performance that plays off of frigid weather, resiliency, and hide-and-seek home invasion.
Yes, at some point, a couple of visitors who have a history with Emma look to break into a secure safe of cash that requires a numerical combination and fingerprint authorization. Played by Callan Mulvey and Jack Roth, the sibling bandits couldn’t be any different, with the former prepared to break into the safe by any means necessary. In contrast, the younger brains behind the operation have a clear moral conscience regarding harming others. Throwing all of this into the mystery at play eventually creates a few intriguing scenarios that keep the outcome of this madness relatively unpredictable. There is also a smattering of violence and some pleasantly nasty practical blood makeup effects, including the horrifying image of skin peeling off the ice. The direction makes proper good use of the isolation (rather than have jump scares and loud music, the only sounds here are from snow crashing down and heavy gusts of wind) with a tense atmosphere.
Throughout all of this, Megan Fox successfully portrays Emma remains determined to stay alive while proving that she can be a stealthy fighter under extreme circumstances. It is also exciting to see that she has some more against-type projects coming up, hopefully from filmmakers that know how to make her shine as she does here. Till Death could be the birth of a career rejuvenation.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com