It’s interesting… I still have a very clear memory of how drastically Wes Craven’s seminal “slasher” feature SCREAM changed the landscape of commercial horror upon its 1996 theatrical release. What followed were the I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER movies, then other similarly themed, somewhat self-aware “slasher” fare such as URBAN LEGENDS, VALENTINE, DISTURBING BEHAVIOR, THE FACULTY and even HALLOWEEN: H20, which reinvented the Michael Myers franchise based on this template. In retrospect, these movies are actually a lot better than I remember them being when they were coming out. There’s a certain aesthetic to 90’s horror that is very unique to that time period.
For those that have longed for something that borrows mild traditional storytelling from the heyday of 80’s slashers, but applied that 90’s style to it, MOST LIKELY TO DIE is for you.
In terms of plot, a group of old high school friends are meeting up at their friend Ray’s house the night prior to their 10 year high school reunion. Each of them have had varying degrees of success over the years, but only Gaby, a poker pro, has kept in touch with Jade and this is a big night for all involved. Ray became a famous professional hockey player for the Rangers but was recently, and very publicly, let go. Gaby’s high school sweetheart Brad Campbell became a very famous movie & TV star, so she’s nervous about seeing him again. There’s the class prankster DJ, the uptight bitchy Simone, the smooth Lamont and the creepy groundskeeper Tarkin, played by Jake Busey (of course)! Last but not least is Perez Hilton, as the brash Freddie.
While catching up, they bring up John Doe, a kid in high school whom they tormented. In SLAUGHTER HIGH style, a killer shows up dressed as a demented “Graduate” and starts offing each and every one of them in the way their “most likely to” premonitions dictated in their yearbook. Could it really be John Doe, back for revenge after all these years? Is it Ray, who mysteriously disappeared before the reunion party even started? The creeper Tarkin? Or someone else within the group? And therein lies the murder mystery as presented to us across dozens of 90’s slasher fare. And here’s the thing, it’s been so darned long since we’ve had a traditional horror movie in that vein, that I had a blast going along for the ride!
Penned by screenwriter Laura Brennan and directed by Anthony DiBlasi (THE LAST SHIFT), MOST LIKELY TO DIE doesn’t do anything drastically different with the “slasher” sub-genre, it just sticks to the basic rules and delivers an entertaining, brisk 80 minute story. The characters are catty, hiding secrets, hooking up and occasionally falling for some of the same ol’ horror movie clichés, but regardless, I was still surprised by a lot of the movie’s curve balls and little twists that I was with it until the very end. The killer, himself, was awesome and really, that’s what counts in these types of films. Wearing a graduation outfit, complete with a razor sharp blade at the top of his graduation cap, his appearance alone makes for the film’s best moments and Diblasi knows exactly how to shoot him. Some kills are cool, others are really memorable, but there’s one in particular that’s one of the best I’ve seen in a while and caused the audience I saw the flick with to burst into applause.
Like with any story revolving around old high school friends, I liked how the hidden dramas between them slowly start to come to the surface. There’s a reason Brad left Gaby back in high school. Freddie hasn’t touched a drink the entire time he’s been at the house and there’s a reason for that too. Jade stayed in town because of one of her deep secrets. And as these all start to come to light, the characters begin questioning, “how well do we really know each other? High school was 10 years ago.” I also have to point out how much I liked actress Heather Morris as Gaby. There’s just something very natural and “girl next door” about her, which I know is a complete cliché to say, but it really rings true here. She doesn’t come across as a smoking hot CW actress that would completely take me out of this story, but instead, she pretty much encapsulates the kind of gal I went to high school with.
DiBlasi as a director has been able to build quite an interesting and diverse horror filmography. He’s tackled Clive Barker’s material, taken a stab at the supernatural, a serial killer story, done a straight forward thriller and now, with ease, he handles a “slasher” pic with complete reverence for what made those movies so much fun. He’s one of those filmmakers from whom I’m always excited to see what’s next.
MOST LIKELY TO DIE is currently playing in limited theatrical release and is now available on VOD outlets. I suggest getting a group of friends together, breaking out some popcorn and beer, and just having a good ol’ time with this one.