Most Likely To Die. 2016. Directed by Anthony DiBlasi. Screenplay by Laura Brennan.
Starring Chad Addison, Jake Busey, Tess Christiansen, John Doe, Ryan Doom, Perez Hilton, Marci Miller, Tatum Miranda, Heather Morris, Johnny Ramey, Jason Tobias, & Skyler Vallo.
Unrated. 90 minutes.
As a director, overall Anthony DiBlasi is a solid horror filmmaker. His films Cassadaga, Dread, and Last Shift were each creepy, at times wild, savage. Most importantly, they all shared his style, which is dark and unsettling. A lot of directors in the horror genre seem to believe jump scares and a bit of blood make for scares. Sometimes they do work. Most of the time it’s a cheap way to make people afraid. In opposition to those types of horror movies, DiBlasi gives us the little genre tropes along the way, but uses a significant amount of his energy as director to cultivate an atmosphere and a mood that can get under your skin.
Now, along comes Most Likely To Die – in theatre and available through various VOD platforms on Friday, May 13th. This is a slasher horror that feels like it would’ve been right at home during the ’80s. Not because of its look, or the music; none of that. But simply it calls to mind those themed films like Slaughter High, Happy Birthday to Me, even My Bloody Valentine (obviously the awesome 1981 original not the shit remake). Better than that, it surpasses a lot of that generic fare by subverting expectations, employing a liberal use of nasty violence in its various kills. In addition, the actors make it better than so many middle of the road slashers because they’re energetic, real, void of too much unnecessary melodramatic acting. With a few flaws, DiBlasi makes Most Likely To Die a fun, furious slasher for the 20-somethings of today, which has enough blood to satisfy a visceral craving and a nice script from Laura Brennan.
I’ll give it to Perez Hilton. He’s not somebody I enjoy in his role as part of the new media online. However, his personality is suited to this role, and he plays it well, too. He also has a great Scream Queen scream that breaks out now and then. Say what you want, fan or no fan, Hilton at least has some charisma. He feels natural acting here, he never makes his scenes awkward (other than the foolishness of the written character). So I never thought I’d see myself at this point, but Perez might make a little career out of small movie roles in the future. Aside from him the rest of the actors are mostly good. Heather Morris, of Glee and Spring Breakers fame, does a good job with her character. She has a decent amount of screentime. Her character is strong and doesn’t sit around like a cliche Final Girl. Morris is believable, and sometimes that’s almost enough for the slasher sub-genre. Either way, her character isn’t written weak, nor does she play her that way even in those expected slasher scenes where she’s fleeing the relentless killer. Most the cast fills the story out nicely and unlike some of these types of horrors we’re not left with a ton of stiff, wooden performances that make you roll your eyes ’till it hurts.
There’s definitely a solid dose of slasher kills included here. At the same time, there are some of those highly atmospheric moments of which DiBlasi is capable. These are mixed in amongst all the murder at the hands of the film’s villain. For instance, there’s one truly (awesomely) nasty decapitation in the last half hour, then screenwriter Laura Brennan and DiBlasi setup an unsettling moment where Gaby (Morris) is trapped in a long gated hall with the killer; as he comes at her the score is ultra ominous, and I loved the weird thing he does while moving closer and closer (I won’t spoil that brief, unique few seconds). And some of the jump scare shots aren’t even jumpy – instead of shocking us, startling the viewer purposefully, DiBlasi uses these instead to gradually get to us. Instead of the killer jumping out from behind doors or popping up from behind, he materialises in the frame most of the time and that still gives us a terrifying shake.
What I dig most about the film is Brennan’s writing. For the longest time things seem a little generic. But Brennan slowly tethers us to this group of friends, a few years down the road from their graduation and all grown up, before the terror of their lives begin. Best of all, Most Likely To Die ends up going in a slightly different direction than expected. A lot of these slasher stories that begin with a terrible thing happening to somebody usually end up with the same end results, the same sorts of characters turning out to be the killer, so on, and so on. The killer was somebody I didn’t particularly expect, the motive slightly different. The very end was both satisfying, as well as wonderfully mysterious. Despite the few flaws, Most Likely To Die is a nice bit of slasher cinema. Anthony DiBlasi continually shows off his chops for the creepy stuff. When it comes to slasher horror, there are a ton of shit movies coming out of the woodwork all the time. Especially nowadays with so much found footage and the prevalence of easy ways for young filmmakers to film/get their product out to the public. In defiance of the trend, DiBlasi and screenwriter Laura Brennan come up with an exciting, intense story that stands in homage to the ’80s and the heyday of celebration-themed horror movies. Sure, it could improve on a few elements. But ultimately DiBlasi has offered up another bit of terror with style and fury.