Hallorann, an innovative drug company, is looking for candidates to test their new drug A9913. A9913 is supposed to enhance human memory; giving people the ability to not only remember their favorite memories, but to actually relive them. Anna and a handful of other broke college students agree to be Hallorann’s test subjects in exchange for 2,000 dollars. The drug begins to have the reverse effect, and some candidates being to foresee the future. The characters affected by the drug begin losing their mind when they become unable to distinguish reality from visions. And when test subjects begin to die mysteriously, it is up to five candidates to solve the mystery. Tell Me How I Die is a fun and lighthearted horror film that delivers thrills while making the audience laugh.
Most of director D J Viola work has been in the world of music documentaries. He has worked on eighteen episodes of the Eliva Movie Macabre TV series, but this is his first step into the world of feature-length genre film. In just the entirety of 24 days, Viola managed to create a believable blizzard setting in the middle of June in LA. So needless to say, he knows what he is doing. There are some gorgeous scenes in the first 20 minutes alone that make this one an almost immediate surprise. That said, a lot of the visual creativity that makes the opening feel so fresh is traded in for standard genre affair in the latter half. That’s not a bad thing, just a bit of a bummer.
As far as the story is concerned, this one has a bit of a Final Destinationvibe to it. Therefore, I can’t say the concept is entirely original, but the approach definitely is. The writing team of three did a great job at keeping the script humorous while keeping things tense. Even though there are time jumps between present time and visions of the future, the writing never gets confusing. The script has an early 2000’s feel to it, but that’s no shocker since the script was written in 2004. However, you’ll barely be able to tell unless you have a good ear for it. It’s a weird blend of modern filmmaking mixed with early 2000s slasher flicks. It’s sort of cool, actually.
The acting isn’t the strongest feature of the film, but it’s definitely the most impressive. Most of the actors have never starred in a genre film before. The lines are carried well for the most part, and each actor portrays their character organically. Ryan Higa as Scratch outshines everyone else. He transitions from being a YouTube comedian to the most lovable character in a feature-length effortlessly. Granted, he still plays the “funny guy”, but It’s hard to think this is the guy that told the director he didn’t want to be in his movie because he thought he was going to ruin it.
All in all, this is a fun horror flick with some excellent comedic moments. It’s tense, yet lighthearted, and it doesn’t try too hard to be something it’s not. The concept and the way it’s filmed puts the audience in the character’s shoes by keeping them guessing what’s real and what’s a vision. Give it a watch.
Tell Me How I Die is available on VOD now.
Tell Me How I Die [Review]