Movie Review: "Most Likely to Die"
Most Likely to Die
When a group of adults decide to get together the day before their ten year high school reunion, they are quickly reminded of a terrible act that they had committed during their high school years. They were all members of the yearbook committee, and they had decided that they would make one fellow student's "Most Likely to..." caption say that he was "Most Likely to Die". Then, to take the elaborate prank further, they printed the yearbook with that caption, and planted a gun in his locker. The ten following years of that kid's life have been a seemingly never-ending chain of misfortune that started when he got expelled due to the gun in his locker.
The members of the yearbook committee are now all under one roof (miles from neighbors or civilization). They soon discover that they are being systematically murdered in brutal ways and that the crime scenes are being staged to represent each victim's "Most Likely to..." caption. They assume the hunter is the very kid whose life they ruined, but it could really be anyone who knew about their cruel prank and wants to see that justice is done. The remaining members of the group must discover who is murdering them, and they must also find a way to get out of this mess alive.
The Pros & Cons
The Premise (+3pts)
The Characters (-6pts)
Most Likely to... (+6pts)
The Suspect (-8pts)
The Killer (+3pts)
Bad Decisions (-6pts)
Pro: The Premise (+3pts)
I thought this film had a decent enough premise. A group of adults get together before their high school reunion, but they are systematically hunted by a masked killer. I thought the reasons behind the events of this story made sense. Ten years ago, this group of adults played a pretty severe prank on a kid and ended up ruining the kid's life.
The killer of this film seeks justice for their actions in the past. It was a simple premise, but it worked. Everyone made decisions in high school that they would like to forget, would hate to see their mistakes (from ten years ago) come back to haunt them, and has had a some run-in with bullying in one way or another. On that level, I think that this premise will connect with most audiences.
Con: The Characters (-6pts)
This movie had an effective start. It presented the premise and it did so in the style of a classic slasher movie. Then, the audience had to watch every character show up at the house one by one. The characters then had to catch up with each other and reminisce on their high school years. This was where the film lost all of its steam and then some.
The characters were so poorly developed that their poorly written dialogue made the film feel very stale and uninteresting. The portion of the movie where the characters were catching up probably lasted about twenty or thirty minutes, where the film is only about an hour and a half. Is this uncommon for a horror film? No, but when the characters were this ridiculous, this poorly developed, and had such bad dialogue, it made it hard to get through the movie. I just think it will be hard for audiences to care about these characters or even be interested enough in seeing them get killed.
Pro: Most Likely to... (+6pts)
As the title suggests, this movie played with the popular high school yearbook tradition of "Most Likely to...". As this old group of friends gathered before their high school reunion, one friend put up large printed pictures of each of their yearbook photos. Underneath each photo, was the "Most Likely to..." caption which corresponded to each of their yearbook photos. Why was this interesting? The killer staged each victim's body in a way that represented the character's "Most Likely to..." caption, so these printouts made it fun to guess how each character would die.
I just thought this was an effective and unique aspect of this story. As an audience member, it was entertaining to read the captions and try to guess how the killer would stage the body. While I liked this element of the film, I wish they had done it a bit differently. It would have been more entertaining if the killer killed them in a way that represented their caption, rather than just staging the body in that way after the fact. It also would have been more effective if we got ample time to see or hear what each character's caption was before seeing them get killed. The filmmakers definitely focused on some, but glossed over others. Nonetheless it was a unique gimmick for a horror movie, and I thought it served its purpose.
Con: The Suspect (-8pts)
Okay, so these adults had bullied a kid ten years ago and absolutely ruined the next ten years of his life. Then a masked murderer showed up and started killing these adults. Why on earth, did the filmmakers treat the killer's identity as a mystery? The filmmakers tried desperately to convince its audience that the killer could be someone other than the formerly bullied kid. Was the bullied kid actually the killer or was the killer someone else? That honestly is not even my point. My point was that the filmmakers had a simple premise, and by even making it a mystery at all, the filmmakers made it more complicated than it needed to be.
Normally, my problem (with something like this) would be that the movie was either too predictable or tried too hard to be unpredictable. Sure, that was part of my problem with this, but my real problem was with the movie's focus. The filmmakers spent so much time trying to make the audience second guess a very obvious plot point, while spending no time trying to properly develop any character (including the suspect). It forced a mystery into the film when there did not need to be one. They could have just made the villain be the bullied kid and could have given that kid a compelling story. Instead, the filmmakers forced mystery into this story and I think it ended up ruining the movie.
Pro: The Killer (+3pts)
While I hated the mystery element of this story, I rather enjoyed the masked killer itself. I thought the appearance, of the killer, worked really well. The killer wore a cap and gown to represent their high school graduation, and they wore a mask that emulated the scratched up yearbook photo of the kid that was deemed "Most Likely to Die". I thought the costume worked really well for this story, but I thought the slasher vibe worked really well as well.
This killer killed their victims in some interesting ways. They killed some of their victims in brutal ways. Yet they killed others in surprising ways, that were shocking in the most entertaining way (let me just say that the cap ended up being more than just a costume). Whenever this killer was doing their thing, I was definitely entertained. The only problem was, the killer did not get a whole lot of screen-time. Most Likely to Die was at its best when it was focused on being a slasher movie with a unique gimmick. Unfortunately, that aspect of the story did not get a ton of screen-time.
Con: Bad Decisions (-6pts)
The character decision making was just as bad as the poor character development. At one point, one character had a gun pointed straight at the killer—and had a perfect shot—only for another character to yell "don't shoot!"—because reasons—which allowed ample time for the killer to get away. At another point a character (conveniently) lost track of their phone. Then said phone was ringing, face down, and the words "answer me" were written on it. This led to the character curiously walking over to their phone—an obvious trap—crouching down and checking it out.
Those were just two examples and they had no real impact on the film (aside from conveniently putting characters into bad situations). Just believe me when I say that there were plenty of other examples of bad decision making throughout this movie. I will not go into any others, because doing so could spoil the movie. Regardless, these were terrible decisions that were clearly written into the story in order to move the plot along.
Grade: D+ (67pts)
I saw the trailer for this movie and I thought that it would be another ridiculous slasher film. Unfortunately, it still disappointed me. It had very poorly written characters, yet the filmmakers focused heavily on uninteresting dialogue between them. It had an interesting premise of staging the crime scenes to represent the character's "Most Likely to..." captions, and it had a cool slasher villain, but the filmmakers spent too little time showcasing the movie's strengths. Then there were the characters' very bad decision making, and the completely unnecessary mystery. All of this resulted in the movie's failure. It had the potential to be a average-to-decent slasher movie, but the filmmakers failed to deliver.