Combustible Celluloid
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With: Megan Fox, Callan Mulvey, Eoin Macken, Aml Ameen, Jack Roth
Written by: Jason Carvey
Directed by: S.K. Dale
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, grisly images, and language throughout
Running Time: 88
Date: 07/02/2021

Till Death (2021)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Cuff Film

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After a shaky start, this surprisingly taut, vicious horror/thriller crackles to life with a dark sense of logic, a harrowing depiction of mental and emotional abuse, and a woman's boundless strength.

Emma Webster (Megan Fox) is unhappily married to lawyer Mark (Eoin Macken), whose quietly cruel manner has led her into an affair with Tom (Aml Ameen), who works in Mark's firm. Meanwhile, Emma still suffers flashbacks to an assault years earlier at the hands of the vicious Bobby Ray (Callan Mulvey). On their anniversary, she discover's Bobby Ray's police file on Mark's desk. Emma dutifully goes out to dinner with her husband, and is then surprised when he drives them to their lake house for a "romantic" night.

In the morning, however, she finds herself wearing only a sheer nightgown, and handcuffed to Mark's dead body. The place is freezing, all the tools have disappeared, her phone is broken, she has no shoes, and there appears to be no escape. Far worse, Bobby Ray and his younger brother Jimmy (Jack Roth) suddenly show up, looking to rob a safe. How will Emma survive?

While Till Death could have been a fairly routine home invasion or torture device movie, it elevates itself into fresh territory with a fierce conviction. An opening drone shot over a city, followed by an awkward hotel room tryst/breakup scene doesn't look promising. Soon after, Fox effectively conveys the lost despair of her marriage, carrying herself with a frosty bitterness, as well as a sense of being resolved to her fate. She moves slowly, but poised, going through the motions expertly.

After the trap is sprung, a weight is lifted, a fire comes back into her. While she fights to save herself, there's also a palpable pleasure in the way she drags her husband's handcuffed body from room to room, with no effort to protect it from bumps or damage.

Like Gerald's Game, the thriller aspects here line up neatly, and even though Mark's awful plan seems insane to the extreme, Till Death treats it with care and carries it out to its most logical point; it ultimately makes more sense than any Saw-related deathtraps. A feature directing debut by S.K. Dale, the movie has us not only rooting for Emma to survive, but also convinces us that she has the stuff to pull it off.

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