by Ruben R. Rosario
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Dominic James’ Die is a perfect example of a low budget horror film gone wrong. Set in modern day, six people wake up in glass cells with dots imprinted on their wrists, much like the dots found on a die. A mysterious bearded man confronts them with various death challenges where they must roll a die in order to reduce the severity of their punishment. Whether its reducing the amount of bullets in a revolver or shortening the time of staying underwater, each of the individuals must do what they can in order to survive and place their fate in the roll of the die. Once the games begin, they all realize that they are all connected in the game and must do what they can to survive. Based off a script by Domenico Salvaggio and a story by Nick Mead, Die is just another example of a poorly executed film in the current flood of horror cinema.
There are some pretty good performances in Die and enough for one to keep watching. Elias Koteas (The Thin Red Line, Let Me In) and Caterina Murino (Zen, Casino Royale) do a solid job bringing their best for the material at hand. John Pyper-Ferguson (Lost, X-Men: The Last Stand) also does a pretty good job with Jacob Odessa, the main antagonist. There’s even a nice little cameo with Stephen McHattie (Pontypool, A History of Violence) right at the beginning of the film, but even all these great actors cant save the bad story. The main problem is that it borrows too heavily from the Saw franchise, with its premise and overall themes of redemption. It just takes all of this and reiterates it one more time, making it feel extremely derivative.
Another weak link in the film is that it tries its hand at being too serious for its own good. There are too many scenes, where there’s an opportunity to show how brutal these choices may be or what violent acts these people must inflict and endure and there’s a cut away. Now I know that the cut away can be an effective tool for editing purposes and there are times where “tell, don’t show” work, but in Die, it just becomes increasingly frustrating seeing the cut come a little too soon. Another weak link is the extremely poor score done for the film. It lacks impact and repeats the main theme so much that it comes off as hollow and devoid of any emotional gravitas.
Overall, Die is a film that aspired to do much, but couldn’t in the overall scheme of thing. Fate decided something else for this film.
Ruben R. Rosario is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He’s an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
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