most horrible things

“When six young strangers are invited to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – an exclusive dinner party hosted by a charming and enigmatic host on the most romantic night of the year, Valentine’s Day – they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Or so they think…Lured by the promise of romantic connections and a substantial financial reward – these optimistic, bright young things come together in the hope of finding true love. But all is not what it seems, and when their host reveals their dangerous and ultimately deadly secrets – the promise of romance proves to be something far more deadly.”

Most Horrible Things, shows its hand pretty early on, stripping away any mystery as to what is to follow. We know 4 people died, we know the ‘host’ is being blackmailed into their role and we know an investigation is underway. It is a bold approach that requires a masterful approach to storytelling. That said, the team behind the production stumbles into the challenge with a lot of awkward blunders on the way. It is not a complete loss with certain elements still working, however, there is an unfortunate split where any positives have equal negatives that make for an underwhelming experience.

The most notable example is in the varied quality of performances, with an ensemble cast there is a troublesome degree of inconsistency that is almost split directly down the line. On the positive side, you have performances from Simon Phillips, Natali Burn, Sarah J Butler, and Jeff Rich who inject believable personalities into their respective roles. On the other end, Andres Erickson & Vincent van Hinte seem miscast in awkwardly trying to present these brooding/dark personas. The remainder of the cast lands somewhere in the middle, but giving the character-driven narrative the inconsistency in quality is a frustrating distraction.

The emphasis on ‘horror’ in the production is focused on exploring insecurities and forcing the participants of the peculiar game down a path of self-discovery that turns violent. At times, this offers an intriguing look into social prejudices as well as making way for some clever mind games between the varied cast. However, some of the messages are utterly ham-fisted into the narrative and handled with a lack of grace for the themes being explored. For example, Andres Erickson as Jason is an odd caricature of pettiness and insecurity which seems attached to his sexuality. Given this character plays a major role as a catalyst for escalating the conflict there is an undeniable awkwardness interjected into what is supposed to be a straight-faced exploration of human frailty.

The choice to reveal the conclusion of the production early also plays detrimental to the overall experience, even if the police integration scenes are engaging with the best performances. The problem lies in the ‘twist’ of Most Horrible Things being easily identifiable from the get-go to the point where any sense of suspense can be built is gone in the opening minutes. Ultimately, it is the script from Aviva Dove-Viebahn & Brittany Fonte, coupled with awkward performances and director Hiroshi Katagiri’s inability to elevate the material, that pushes the project into a predictable mundanity that can’t be resurrected by its few redeeming factors.

However, those who enjoy a ‘death game’ type scenario with an emphasis on the psychological may still find value in Most Dangerous Things. Outside of filling a niche in a sub-genre, however, the production has little to offer in the way of inventiveness, scares or the intended profundity it jumbles so messily in the script.

Most Horrible Things Will Be Available On UK digital platforms on the 14th of November 2022

More Film Reviews