You don’t often see a film like To Your Last Death.
I mean that quite literally – it’s a 2-D animated horror movie.
In To Your Last Death, Miriam DeKalb wakes up in the hospital. She’s the sole survivor among her siblings after their father’s deadly game of revenge. But then Miriam receives a once-in-a-lifetime offer from a supernatural entity: a chance to go back and do it all over again. Now, Miriam must survive both her father’s blood lust and the Gamemaster’s ever-changing rules to save her siblings as she relives the worst night of her life.
Note: This review contains mild spoilers for To Your Last Death. Jump to the spoiler-free Bottom Line below to avoid them.
The basic horror premise of To Your Last Death essentially falls into the gory torture porn genre. To be honest, that’s not usually my type of horror. However, To Your Last Death manages to rise above the standard torture porn fair thanks to its character work and its sci-fi twist.
Because the person putting the DeKalb siblings into these twisted, deadly games? It’s their own father. Not only that, each brand of torture is specifically tailored to the individual – and to how Mr. DeKalb believes his children have personally wronged him. We also get some flashbacks to the DeKalb kids growing up and early hints of their father’s monstrous behavior. (Another common complaint of mine about these types of moves is that the torturer’s actions come out of left field. To Your Last Death makes it clear that while the events of the film are an escalation, Mr. DeKalb has never been a good guy.)
But what really sells the movie is that the DeKalbs aren’t playing this twisted game of survival alone. The Gamemaster resets the night for Miriam, giving her the chance to redo it and save her siblings. But the Gamemaster doesn’t play alone – she’s got a whole group of celestial gameplayers watching the horrific events and betting on the outcome. And if the DeKalb siblings don’t keep things interesting enough? Well, they’ve got the ability to pause, rewind, and change the scenario into something they like. That’s bad news for Miriam, who just wants the fastest, simplest exit from her nightmare.
The animation will be hit-or-miss for viewers. Personally, I think it makes the film more interesting and unique. (Plus, it makes the inherent gore a little easier to stomach.) But stylistically, it may not be for everyone.
My biggest complaint is that I would have liked to see more of the mysterious gameplayers. To me, they’re a big reason the story elevates past the standard “torture porn” horror. The “behind the scenes” bit keeps the story interesting, so I wish it was played up a little more (like in The Cabin in the Woods.)
Now, I hardly ever request a sequel. I think Hollywood is too quick to jump on anything that does moderately well and turn it into an inevitably much worse franchise. But in the case of To Your Last Death, I have to admit…I’d watch more. Not with the DeKalb family specifically, but I think other films with the Gamemaster and her strange squad of celestial players would prove interesting.
To Your Last Death: The Bottom Line
To Your Last Death is a gory good time that uses character backstories and a sci-fi twist to elevate the standard “torture porn” fare.
Want even more horror recs? Check out Fright-A-Thon, our celebration of all things scary leading up to Halloween.