Tag Archives: Darren Lynn Bousman

Or Did the Case Solve Us?


by Hope Madden

It’s been five years since we’ve had a new episode in the Saw series.

I know! You thought it was longer, right? That’s because the last iteration, 2017’s Jigsaw, was so lackluster and forgettable that you forgot it.

Well, what if they go in a new direction? (Not really, but at least there are name actors.)

What if they bring in filmmakers from the series heyday? Not James Wan and Leigh Whannell. I mean, they have bigger fish to fry. But Darren Lynn Bousman, the guy who directed Saws 2, 3 & 4, is on board. Along with the scribes who penned Jigsaw, Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger.

To summarize, the guys who wrote the worst episode in the Saw franchise have returned with a middling director to take a borderline novel direction for the 9th chapter.

But Chris Rock!

He’s not enough. Neither is Samuel L. Jackson.

We open, as we must, on the first victim. We wander with him into what he doesn’t realize—although we surely do, unless you are very new to this franchise—is a trap, and one that will not end well.

So far so good, to be honest. If this is the kind of horror you enjoy and you aren’t sick beyond words of it just yet, the opening gag is serviceable.

Then we cut to Det. Zeke Banks (Rock), undercover and getting off a couple funny lines concerning the Forrest Gump universe. Nice. But don’t get comfortable because within minutes we’re dropped into Zeke’s precinct, where the coppiest of all the cops vie for most obviously borrowed cop cliché.

Undercover without backup?! You’re off the rails!

Do not team me with a rookie. You know I work alone!

You’re too close!

And so many more sentences articulated with need of an exclamation point. Zeke is, indeed, teamed with a rookie (Max Minghella), the only cop in the precinct who doesn’t hate him for what he did years ago…

Sam Jackson’s kind of fun, though. And it’s hard not to hope that the excruciating opening act exposition and cop grandstanding is all a way to quickly build the world in which these cleverly planned, torturous games are played.

It is not. It is the whole movie. And it isn’t clever, it isn’t fun, it isn’t gory, it isn’t scary.

It isn’t necessary.

A Wicker Man Vacation

Death of Me

by Seth Troyer

From director Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II-IV, Repo: The Genetic Opera) comes a vacation horror romp that will bring you some thrills and chills. Nothing more, nothing less.

The highlight here is certainly the gorgeous island setting, which is a welcome departure from haunted houses and summer camps with bad reputations.

The panic begins when a vacationing couple (Maggie Q, Luke Hemsworth) on a remote island realizes they remember nothing from the previous night. The rather chilling race to get answers showcases some intense visuals and surreal editing techniques that help add excitement to the predictable—if surprisingly brutal—twists.

If you are a full on horror fanatic, you will probably have at least a decent time here. The film breaks no new ground but it hits its marks rather decently. The whole, “everybody knows whats going on except you” set up owes a lot to classics such as Rosemary’s Baby and The Wicker Man

It’s also not hard to imagine that the success of Midsommar was a factor in greenlighting this film. It similarly attempts to incorporate a modern theme or two, including a very light commentary on consent and free will, which if fleshed out a bit more could have added some potency and depth.

Also sorry to be that guy, but in 2020, do we really need another film where island natives are portrayed as little more than villains who delight in the torture of the “civilized” Americans? It’s a hypothetical question, the answer is: no, probably not.

What Death of Me lacks in originality it sometimes makes up for with intense visual flourishes and dream sequences, but by the third or fourth “was it a dream or did it really happen?” moment, the horrific scenes begin to lose their sense of danger and traumatic permanence. Because of this, the film starts to flounder a bit in the middle section, just before we reach the rather satisfying, bloody climax.

It’s way off course from being a masterpiece, but for fans of the genre stuck inside during these COVID-19 days, you could do worse than this film that teleports you to a beautiful island for a few bloody thrills.