How many readers and cinema aficionados have a strained relationship with their parents? Maybe a there’s a neglecting mother to be ashamed of? Or how about daddy issues stemming from some form of abuse?
Well . . . the animated horror story, To Your Last Death, introduces viewers to four siblings, all of them seriously damaged by their abusive father and his twisted personality. There is Kelsy (voiced by Florence Hartigan, “Phoenix Forgotten”), a young bimbo who married a man much like her father, living a life of luxury, but crying in the dark where no one can hear her; Ethan (voiced by Damien C. Haas), a rocker addicted to pain killers, who didn’t grow up to be so bright; Collin (voiced by Benjamin Siemon, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” TV series), a closeted homosexual who wants nothing more than to make his father proud and seems like he is never meeting his old man standards; and lastly our protagonist Miriam (voiced by Dani Lennon, “The Shasta Triangle”), a woman who can’t get over her childhood memories that manifest as lucid dreams of physical abuse to her, her siblings, and their mother who was strangled to death by her own husband.
They’re brought together with the most sickening of intentions by Cyrus Dekalb (voiced by Ray Wise, “God’s Not Dead 2”), an important business man with a sinister grin and threatening voice. All he wants to accomplish is the disappearance of his heirs, whom he considers a big disappointment. They are also the reason why he couldn’t archive his biggest goal, to become Vice President of the United States. One by one they will be locked up and tortured, both physically and mentally. Feeling the pain that will lead them to death, and hearing one last time (MAYBE, one last time) the hurtful and disgusting comments of their “beloved” daddy.
The bloody “fun” begins with Miriam’s memories, we hear the echo of her voice saying, “He killed them all” floating in the air while she lies on the floor. This young woman is shown to be the only survivor among her already mentioned siblings, and here is when things get interesting.
You see Miriam has somehow been saved by a dark entity called “The Game Master” (voiced by Morena Baccarin, “Deadpool”) — some sort of black haired super villain who appears and disappears at her own will. This wicked entity, presents Miriam with an opportunity to go back in time and make things right for her and her siblings. Without any other option, Miriam sees herself wrapped in a repeating game of torture and desperation, for the mere purpose of entertaining a group of cosmic beings betting on the outcome. To get through this, her pain will be endless and the violence endured will be replayed as many times as The Game Master wishes.
The game won’t be easy (an understatement, if ever there was one) and a crazy amount of blood will spill over the film’s 91 minutes of air time. Over and over the characters will be struggling with what would be the most traumatizing moment of anyone’s life. As an example, Kelsy in one iteration must bleed herself in a pan or risk her throat being slit. In another, Ethan is repeatedly asphyxiated for wrong answers on a timed quiz. Miriam has to remember as the show-woman of this game, if she doesn’t provide amusement, all thumbs will go down for her and the grisly outcomes befalling her and her brothers and sister will be permanent.
To Your Last Death can be seen as a mixture of the Netflix series “Dark” and “Russian Doll” with the tortuous elements of “Saw” and “Hostel.” The animation style is a bit robotic in the way the characters move which gives it a very roughly made, amateurish feel, though it stylistically reminded me of TV series “Mr. Pickles” and “Archer.” Voice acting doesn’t always rise to the gravity of some of the more extreme situations, but overall it meets the need. Nonetheless, if comic book violence, buxom women (albeit animated) and blood and guts from beginning to end is your thing, To Your Last Death was created with you in mind. Those that are curious should check it out too, provided some free time presents itself.