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To Your Last Death Main

To Your Last Death Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Quiver Distribution

to your last death poster large

Directed by Jason Axinn
Written by Jim Cirile and Tanya C. Klein
2019, 91 minutes, Not Rated
Released on March 17th, 2020

Starring:
Morena Baccarin as The Gamemaster
William Shatner as The Overseer
Ray Wise as Cyrus DeKalb
Bill Moseley as Pavel
Danni Lennon as Miriam DeKalb
Florence Hartigan as Kelsy DeKalb
Damien C. Haas as Ethan DeKalb
Benjamin Siemon as Collin DeKalb

to your last death 01 to your last death 02

Review:

I’m reminded on occasion that I need to spend more time in the animated world. I have nothing against it; as a horror afficionado it seems the perfect vehicle, free of the restrictions of the “real world”. For whatever reason, though, I just don’t jump down the rabbit hole very often. I’m a total mark for Lady Death, I Married a Strange Person, and The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, but that’s about the end of my list.

Fortunately, something like To Your Last Death comes along every now and then to remind me that when you remove the chains of reality and essentially animate a comic book, you get some deeply disturbing and lovingly warped wet work that does a number on your lizard brain. Buckle up, kids.

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Miriam DeKalb (Danni Lennon; The Love Witch) is having the world’s shittiest day. Covered in blood and carrying a fire axe, she’s picked up at the colossal tower of her war profiteer father, Cyrus DeKalb (Ray Wise; Jeepers Creepers 2). In the hospital, she recounts a story that doesn’t add up of she and her three siblings – shallow gold-digger Kelsy (Florence Hartigan; Phoenix Forgotten); wannabe rock star Ethan (Damien C. Haas); and Daddy clone Collin (Benjamin Siemon) – summoned to the family fortress for an important meeting. Things go terribly wrong and Cyrus takes deadly revenge for a betrayal years earlier. Before you can decide what went down, Miriam is invited by a mysterious and sultry cosmic being known as The Gamemaster (Morena Baccarin; Deadpool, Deadpool 2) to take a re-do on the whole affair. There’s a catch, though – The Gamemaster can change the rules whenever she wants, and the ending had better be entertaining! Soon, Miriam is reliving the nightmare over and over with ghastly and hyper-violent results at the hands of Cyrus, his goons (including genre demigod Bill Moseley!), and even her own siblings gone mad.

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To Your Last Death is one of those exercises in insanity that presents something so visually striking while bordering on morally reprehensive that any horror fan is going to forgive the shortcomings. And there are shortcomings – the steroidal Adult Swim-style animation is gorgeous, but the characters move like a game of Paper Mario on low-grade LSD. Furthermore, there isn’t anywhere near enough William Shatner as The Overseer (a.k.a. the narrator); he pops in and out in infrequently random fashion. For the love of all things unholy, when you’ve got William Shatner you use him like a high-priced escort at a cocaine-fueled power lunch!

But by God, is it gleefully grotesque fun! The animation is a hybrid of Locke and Key-style character rendering with Grand Theft Auto-style backdrops. On the rare occasion a scene isn’t dripping in gore, guts, and brains, the color scheme of the whole affair is there to make sure that your eyeballs are still being assaulted. The kills are plentiful and exuberant; the electrocution and the elevator trap are just wonderful! It’s good, old-fashioned, mean-spirited violence. If that sounds like negative criticism, it’s certainly not.

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Further counterbalancing the few shortcomings are a tight script and well-developed characters that behave in a logical way. Crazy, right? Logical behavior in a horror setting seems nearly blasphemous, but there’s a payoff to doing the smart thing that will make you grin from ear to ear. It’s that moment and the reveal of what’s going on behind the scenes that put To Your Last Death over the top by taking tropes you know and presenting them in a clever way.

Also, we’re told to “GET TO THE CHOPPER!”, and that’s never a bad thing. It’s a hardline stance to take, but if you disagree with that then we can’t be friends.

Through all the switchbacks, scenario flips, and batshit craziness, To Your Last Death functions as a slightly low-rent but gloriously in-your-face take on Groundhog Day, where cosmic gamblers are pulling the strings for personal amusement. Think Stephen King’s Under the Dome with way bigger balls and sharp fucking teeth (and a damn fine cast). What’s not to love?

to your last death 09 to your last death 10

Grades:

Movie: 4 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Writer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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