I didn’t have to watch this movie. I could have written the review of ‘Most Likely to Die’ (and predicted who the killer was) after reading the cast list and the synopsis but I didn’t because that wouldn’t be fair, and as such I just wasted the longest one hour and twenty minutes of my life enduring a movie I already knew everything about, which is pretty annoying. I’m getting older you know? I’ve got to choose the moments I waste on bad films very carefully.

When a group of friends get together for a ten year graduation reunion, the writing is already on the wall. Well, not quite. It’s actually their class yearbook photos that are on the wall, along with their individual ‘Most Likely To…’ predictions. Here’s an example: Ray (Jason Tobias), a professional ice hockey player who has just been cut from his team, was dubbed ‘Most Likely To be a legend on the ice’ whereas Ashley (Skyler Vallo from ‘True Blood’) who wears a pink vest top with her name on it and is thankfully the first one to die (which happens so early on it isn’t a spoiler) was nominated ‘Most Likely To have her name in lights’.

When the friends eventually find her body, that proves to be an extremely accurate prediction.

Gaby (‘Glee’s’ Heather Morris, who bears a fleeting resemblance to Cynthia Rothrock, especially while prowling darkened corridors toting a gun (why she has access to that gun is breezily explained in some truly awful ‘deus ex machina’ sreenwriting)) quickly works out that they’re being killed according to their ‘Most Likely To’s’. It’s not the most original way to murder people but, in the case of the character who is ‘Most Likely To eat anything’ it does prove moderately inventive. But only moderately.

I don’t have to tell you the rest. They turn on each other, confess their secrets to each other, split up for no apparent reason and then get slowly picked off by a white masked killer in a graduation robe who’s found a very creative use for his mortarboard. The red herrings start piling up faster than the corpses – where’s Ray (the recently sacked ice hockey star) got to? Why has Freddie (Perez Hilton) jumped parole to attend the gathering? And what about creepy beer-chugging Tarkin? (Jake Busey, looking and acting so much like his Pa that it made me want to switch off this movie and watch one of Busey Snr’s films instead).

Could it all have something to do with the boy they humiliated so many years ago, whose life they apparently destroyed and who never recovered from the trauma? And why does the killer announce himself to a recording of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’? (I still haven’t worked that one out). And don’t even get me started on Gaby’s ex boyfriend Brad (Ryan Doom… I so had to stop myself from typing Victor von Doom just then) who is now a big-time TV star playing a private detective with the worst theme music in the business.

There was a reason I wanted to review ‘Most Likely to Die’. Its synopsis, although cut-and-pasted from so many other slasher films, reminded me especially of a 1986 movie called ‘Slaughter High’ (aka ‘April Fools Day’) which is so terrible it’s actually a masterpiece of ‘this is so bad it’s genius’ horror moviemaking. And the fact it stars Caroline Munro doesn’t do any harm either.

True, ‘Slaughter High’ doesn’t have the budget or the gloss of ‘Most Likely to Die’ (there are some scenic shots at the front of ‘MLtD’ that look fantastic, and deserve to be in a much better movie) and the acting in ‘MLtD’ is marginally better, although none of the cast (with the possible exception of Tess Christiansen, as Gaby’s best friend Jade) make much of an impact. But what ‘Slaughter High’ has is a sense of fun. It doesn’t take itself seriously, it knows it’s tacky and ridiculous, and even though we know what’s coming next it’s never boring. It also brilliantly kills off an actor called Billy Hartman, who I briefly worked with on a TV show at about the same time he was making the movie. I won’t tell you if Billy and I got along, but I did wear out a couple of VHS tapes watching and re-watching his pretty nasty death scene. That probably tells you all you need to know.

On the other hand, ‘Most Likely to Die’ takes itself so seriously that it’s apparent from the pre-credits sequence that no enjoyment is going to be found here. Writer Laura Brennan obviously knows this genre inside out (especially Wes Craven’s original ‘Scream’) but she brings absolutely nothing new to the table, including heart. Kevin Williamson’s screenplay for ‘Scream’ is a joy – tight, funny, peopled with great characters, loaded with fantastic death scenes, with a terrifically scary villain in ‘Ghostface’ and a genuinely surprising (at least when he wrote it) third act twist – it’s clear that Williamson loved writing his script and his enthusiasm was no doubt the first thing Wes Craven felt when he took the project on. Loving what you’re creating isn’t only infectious, it’s also deeply important when you’re making a movie. I doubt Laura Brennan and director Anthony Diblasi felt anything throughout the whole process of making ‘Most Likely to Die’, apart from ‘how can we set this up for a sequel’ (yes, they do that), which is truly disappointing.

Because let’s face it, if writing and directing the movie is a chore for the people involved, think how much more tedious a chore it is for the audience suckered into watching it.

‘Most Likely to Die’ is, hopefully, ‘Most Likely to Sink Without Trace’.

Now where’s my copy of ‘Slaughter High’…?

 

Frightfest London review: Most Likely To Die
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About The Author

Ian White is an author, screenwriter and journalist. His book ‘Witchcraft and Black Magic in British Cult Cinema’ was recently published by Hemlock and he is a regular contributor to ‘Paranormal Underground’ and ‘Starburst’ magazines. He’s currently writing a new book and screenplay and his embarrassingly out-of-date website can be found at http://ianwhitelondon.wix.com/ian-white