When you gaze all starry-eyed at your partner on your wedding day and vow to love and to cherish them till death parts you both, I’m sure none of us are thinking that this is a death we’ll instigate or plan with macabre detail. Unfortunately, Emma’s (Megan Fox) husband Mark (played by Eoin Macken very briefly) has other plans in mind in Till Death.
From the very start, it’s clear to see that Emma feels trapped in her marriage, a noose around her neck that she’s unable to escape. Fox exudes such a deep sadness and does such a great job in making us feel the interior of her character. As the couple head off to dinner to celebrate their wedding anniversary, not before stopping at home so she can change to a red dress he wants her to wear, the whole display feels more like a prison sentence than something joyous. This is emphasized even more when he gifts her a necklace that looks like fetters for her neck (and I mean this literally), and Emma is driven to warn a newly engaged woman – to be careful and recognise that she has a choice.
As the narrative reveals its layers, we understand that Emma suffered tremendous trauma from an assault. She was stabbed in an attempted robbery and Mark was the lawyer who put the man in jail, which explains how she ended up marrying him, because of some seeming sense of gratitude – an act that ties her forevermore to a controlling and possessive man. So when Mark offers an olive branch by bringing her to their lake house for a romantic evening, we’re skeptical of his intentions and have every right to be as he’s simply the worst.
In an homage to Gerald’s Game, Mark kills himself while handcuffed to Emma and has put appropriate plans in play to make sure she only survives him briefly. Fox does stellar work in handling the physicality of the role, communicating Emma’s utter exhaustion from dragging her husband’s corpse around, trying to find a way out of her predicament. To make matters worse, their lake house is in the middle of nowhere, Mark got rid of her clothes and it’s snowing, so there is no way she is going to make it walking through all that snow in her nightwear.
And to complicate things even more, Bobby (Callan Mulvey) – the man who assaulted her – and his partner (Jack Roth) appear at the house, chasing Mark’s promise of diamonds in a safe, a safe they can only open with Emma’s help. It turns into a game of cat and mouse, as the men try to find her and Emma does her best to evade them, knowing that she simply cannot trust that they will be satisfied with just the loot, especially since Emma is the reason Bobby went to jail.
Director S.K. Dale makes Emma’s evasions authentic and plausible to what she would be able to do. She doesn’t turn into some Liam Neeson type character. We see her struggles and we root for her survival, and the screenplay offers enough thrills to keep the tension high. Much like Gerald’s Game and The Invisible Man, we see Emma free herself from the shackles of abuse after enduring physical and psychological suffering.
However, unlike those films, Till Death never leaves the shallow depths of a B movie. It is entertaining, and Fox delivers a good performance, but the symbolism is too on the nose at times, and some of the characters aren’t properly developed so we never really get to feel their impact within the narrative.
Still, the movie is a great calling card for Fox, and with another movie coming out this year, I can’t wait to see what she does next.
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There are enough twisty thrills in Til Death for me to offer a recommendation. However, while the film is an appropriate vehicle for Fox's talents, it chooses to play in the little leagues, instead of with the big dogs.
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