Think The Belko Experiment with a nightmaring Groundhog Day twist that gets even more bizzare almost right away when it comes to Jason Axinn’s To Your Last Death.
Host to bold 2D-animation with tons of gore and with the entrance of Miriam Dekalb (Dani Lennon), as she stumbles from a corporate building out onto the street, covered in blood while holding an axe. No sooner than when she’s in the street do the cops pull up and seize her at gunpoint, forcefully restraining her to a hospital bed moments before being interviewed by a detective about what happened prior.
Abandoned and feeling hopeless, an anomalous figure (Morena Baccarin) appears out of nowhere to offer Miriam a second chance to go back in time and possibly prevent the deaths of her foster siblings from childhood, at the hands of their twisted, vindictive father, Cyrus (Ray Wise). Little does Miriam know, however, that however which way things go down, there are larger forces at play that threaten to tip the odds against her every step of the way, to the point where no matter what happens, only one person will be left alive.
There are reasons that Axinn’s latest animated horror spectacle has been a winner within the film festival circuitry in the last few years. Making its appeal to fans of the final girl genre, it’s a film that also taps into multiple markets of consumers who love animation and various aspects of horror, with a core vision that borrows different elements from similar films to create something indelible and thrilling for genre fans.
To Your Last Death introduces complex family drama with Miriam, an underdog do-gooder heroine at its core, who isn’t perfect by any measure of the word, and is still undergoing moments of self-reflection. Upon reuniting with her foster brothers, Ethan (Damian C. Haas) and Colin (Benjamin Siemon) and sister, Kelsy (Florence Hartigan), you get the sense that she cares deeply about her siblings, and as time passes, though the history dictates a certain shared, deep-seated sentiments among the other three due to Miriam’s perceived penchants.
The introduction of Cyrus further immerses you into the deep, horrific innerworkings of his company, a major player in weapons innovation. When the building itself locksdown and seals off all the exits, all that remains is a high-rise enclosure full of death traps, medieval death chambers, and Cyrus’s two heavies hunting them down… or as the venerable William Shatner so aptly calls it, “…a petri dish of mutually assured destruction.”
Baccarin’s enigmatic role as the elusive, omnipresent “Gamemaster” does more than keep the game going… in that she keeps it interesting for her otherworldly audience in their intergalactic dimensional entertainment space – it’s like a betting pool to see who dies last and makes it far, and they each have a say in how the game goes. The “Gamemaster” can move to replay a particular sequence upon majority rule, and intervene with the players like Miriam or Cyrus as long as the “game” stays interesting.
You’d be in a good place to see To Your Last Death as an allegory on just how tiny and insignificant we all are in the vast thickness of space where are planet rotates. There’s a deeper message entrenched in the story though, and it comes delightfully packaged with an all-you-can-watch buffet of animated violence, gore and torture thrills, and a worthy protagonist you can root for. To Your Last Death deserves every award and bit of praise it’s been getting, and you’ll be in good straits for checking it out.
Coverage Ink and Quiver Distribution will release To Your Last Death on Blu-ray beginning October 6. The film is currently available on VOD and Digital through iTunes, Amazon Video, Vudu, Comcast, Spectrum, and Cox.