Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Most Likely to Die: Death by Superlative
to the old joke, if you can remember your high school years you probably didn’t
have much fun at the time. However, it was the job of Gaby and her popular
friends on the yearbook staff to help their classmates remember. Unfortunately,
they did something terrible to a shy loner in their class that he can never
forget. Perhaps he is the mystery man in the cap and gown who comes to slash
his way through their reunion in Anthony DiBlasi’s Most Likely to Die (trailer here), which opens tomorrow in Los Angeles.
popular kids on the yearbook staff? Student Senate would be more likely (if you
will), but evidently their faculty advisor was quite a hot number, so maybe we
can buy it. Regardless, as staffers, they were able to prank the much abused
John Dougherty with a disturbingly scratched out picture in the yearbook, with
the senior superlative: “most likely to die.” It wasn’t funny at all,
especially when the freaked out kid pulled a gun out of his locker, earning
himself a life-crushing expulsion. Don’t worry, they are going to get theirs.
“popular yearbook staffers” are meeting up at the remote luxury home of NHL
wash-out Ray Yoder for some pre-reunion partying. Although their host and his
regular hook-up Ashley are missing, someone has really decked the place out. The
big blow-ups of their senior yearbook pictures would be nice, except for the
big X painted over Ashley’s photo. Of course, it quickly becomes apparent the
killer intends to keep score this way, bumping them off one-by-one, in a method
somehow related to their superlative.
it takes everyone a while to figure out the gravity of their situation, because
they are distracted by old resentments and attractions. Gaby is especially put
out to learn they will be joined by Brad Campbell, the ex who abandoned her
when she got pregnant, absconding to Hollywood, where he found fame on a
television detective show. To add further insult, he is bringing his latest supermodel
girlfriend, Bella. Naturally, Yoder’s pad is in a remote canyon, so the lack of
cell service is relatively credible. The razor-sharp mortar board is also quite the formidable
weapon, but the discovery of Yoder’s hidden handgun will help even the odds (so
do not expect an endorsement from Mike Bloomberg anytime soon).
is not often the “final girl” is a professional poker player, but such is the
case with Gaby. She might have been done wrong by Campbell, but it is hard to
gin up much sympathy for any of the Graduate’s victims, but that is the tried
and true E.C. Comics tradition. In fact, DiBlasi and screenwriter Laura Brennan consciously
riff off vintage 1980s slasher films in fitting ways. They even give us a scene
down the stretch we have always wanted to see in a horror movie (you’ll know it
when you see it).
course, Most Likely is nowhere near
as horrific as the television show Glee for
which lead actress Heather Morris is best known (if you doubt it, just check
out this clip, if your stomach is strong enough). Still, she is appealingly
down-to-earth by slasher genre standards. Ryan Doom is appropriately luggish as
Campbell, whereas Perez “Don’t Call Me Paris” Hilton is about as shticky and annoying
as you would expect as the flamboyant Freddie. Yet, Tatum Miranda ironically displays
the most likable screen presence as the more-self-aware-than-you-would-expect
Likely is an homage with a body count, but some of the worst violence
actually happens off screen. DiBlasi is faithful to the established genre conventions,
while consistently finding ways to tweak them. It is not as inventive and
subversive as The Final Girl or They’re Watching, but it maintains a
high energy level and a healthy balance of attitude and nostalgia. Recommended
for old school slasher fans, Most Likely
to Die opens tomorrow (5/13) in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall.
Labels: Horror Movies