• Death Do Us Part



    Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
    Released on: April 15, 2014
    Directed by: Nicholas Humphries
    Cast: Julia Benson, Peter Benson, Emilie Ullerup
    Year: 2014
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    The Movie

    Death Do Us Part is a wedding-themed slasher movie from director Nicholas Humphries. The movie starts as a woman in a bridal gown covered in blood and grime is seen walking up a forest road. She’s picked up by the local law enforcement, and is then questioned by a police officer about who she is, and how she got to this point. The movie then flashes back to the beginning, as six friends are headed to an isolated cabin to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of Kennedy (Julia Benson, TV’s “Stargate SGU Universe”) and Ryan (Peter Benson, TV’s “Arrow,” and “The Killing”). Joining them are their wedding party: the metrosexual party animal, Chet, Kennedy’s jealous sister, Hannah, the bad boy stoner, Derrick, and Kennedy’s nice but overly attached best friend, Emily.

    Once they reach their destination, the group meet the creepy cabin owner/life-sized red herring, and after a brief exchange with him and the discovery of a dozen or so dead ravens on the front porch of the cabin (which is never explained), they get settled in and the subplots start rolling out. Kennedy has a history of mental illness. Derrick is texting someone about drug money. The cabin owner keeps showing up to tell them he doesn't like parties. Ryan is fucking Hannah on the side. Ryan and Hannah have sex (with their clothes on) up against a tree. Don’t they know how rough tree bark is? I digress. There are a lot of secrets shared between the group, and for an 89-minute slasher Death Do Us Part lays on the subplots pretty thick. This would be fine if the characters were well established, but the subplots are set up before we get a sense of who these people are beyond the basics (the bad boy, the jealous sister, the party guy, etc.). Though there's too much intrigue in the first hour, it at least keeps the movie going at a relatively fast clip and sets up a few red herrings that come into play later on.

    It takes about 50 minutes for Death Do Us Part to deliver its first kill, and even then, the movie promises much more than it ever delivers. All the ingredients for a decent slasher movie are introduced, but are never used to a satisfying effect. Once the killer makes their first move, it seems like Death Do Us Part is going to start dispatching the wedding party one by one in tried and true slasher fashion. Unfortunately, most the cast die unceremoniously and the most annoying character bites it off camera. This is especially frustrating because most of the characters are awful, annoying, horrible people, and there’s no catharsis or joy to be had in watching them getting snuffed out with such lackluster, unimaginative deaths. If you can’t have good characters, at least let your audience see the shitty characters die horribly.

    The cast are mostly veteran TV actors with some experience in independent film and TV movies. Their performances are solid but there’s nothing really noteworthy about them, except for their accents. You see, Death Do Us Part was filmed with a mostly-Canadian cast on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Canada. All of the male cast have a west-coast accent that is recognizably British Columbian. The cast even dress in a west-coast style (Lululemon pants for the girls/plaid shirts for the boys). The cast are all in their mid to late 30s, which is unusual for most slasher films. Outside of My Bloody Valentine, Curtains, and Rituals, I can’t think of many slasher films where the characters aren’t teens or college students. Maybe it’s a Canadian thing?

    Death Do Us Part does a fairly good job of building tension up between the characters and establishing subplots and drama between them, but once it becomes a horror film the whole thing unravels and quickly becomes a directionless mess. The characters do a lot of pointless running around and screaming for no apparent reason, and it becomes very tedious until the last ten to fifteen minutes. I was ready to divorce this movie until the final twist was revealed. The ending has a surprisingly nasty edge that somewhat redeems the movie, but doesn’t quite make up for the lack of direction and poor script.

    Audio/Video/Extras

    Death Do Us Part arrives on DVD with an adequate but unsatisfactory transfer, presented in widescreen 1.78:1. There is an overall lack of detail in the image quality on this DVD, and part of this is likely due to the color contrast of the film itself. Colors appear to have been adjusted in post-production so that the lush forest greens and natural dirt browns of the B.C. wilderness really pop, but skin tones look unnaturally pinkish and shadows are always blue-black instead of true black. Consequently, a lot of the scenes in the second half of the movie that take place at night look predominantly blue-black because of the overall lack of shadow detail. The film doesn’t look very low-budget, but the lack of fine detail and the artificially boosted color contrast gives Death Do Us Part the look of a TV show like the CW’s Arrow or Supernatural. Overall, this isn’t a terrible transfer but it’s just above adequate.

    The film’s single audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, and it fares about as well as the image transfer. There is some use of dynamic range with background effects and music stings, but the dialogue sounds very flat and is focused mostly in the center channel. The movie’s soundtrack is a few decibels louder than the dialogue, and there a couple scenes where the music almost overwhelms the dialogue. There are no other language options on this disc aside from English SDH and Spanish subtitles.

    Extras include Death Do Us Part: Behind the Scenes, a promotional 8-minute making of feature that has interviews with the cast and crew. It’s clear that the movie was a passion project of Julia and Peter Benson, who also wrote and produced the film.

    The Final Word

    Death Do Us Part’s biggest problem is that it spends the first hour building up the scenario for a wedding party-themed slasher film, but it doesn’t deliver the death scenes you’d except, and it’s not satisfying as a psychological horror film either (which the producers have billed it as). The performances from the cast are fine, and very Canadian, but the characters are annoying and the movie’s attempts at humor are forced. There’s a nice reveal at the end of the film, but the twist ending and the Maple Leaf flavour aren’t enough to save this matrimonial horror movie from mediocrity.