Till Death is the adaptation of a screenplay written by Jason Carvey and is also the directorial debut for S.K. Dale. Megan Fox plays the role of Emma, a young woman trapped in a loveless marriage to an insane, narcissistic lawyer, Mark (Eoin Macken), in this American horror thriller. In addition to her toxic marriage, Emma struggles to cope with the past trauma of a vicious attack from which she still bears the scar.
The film starts on a rocky foundation, with the opening scene acting as a cliched portrayal of a woman in an unhappy marriage, feeling like the only alternative of a form of escape is to have an affair. Thankfully, Emma does break off the affair within the first few minutes of the film to try to ease her guilty conscience.
The suspense is successfully built on the plot device of the unnerving behavior of Emma’s husband Mark. There is a menacing undertone to the saccharine use of his endearment especially every time he referred to her as “Pumpkin”. Consequently, It almost sounds like an insult with sharp enough tones to wound or cause physical damage. His romantic gesture of carrying her to their lake house for their Wedding Anniversary would seem like a genuine effort to repair a strained marriage at first. However, things get viciously askew when Emma wakes up the morning after to find herself handcuffed to her husband with disastrous results.
Soon our heroine is stuck having to lug around Mark’s dead body at an isolated location in the height of winter. But why stop there? Mark manages to play a deceitful game of cat and mouse from beyond the grave with cryptic voice messages left behind to remind Emma of her transgressions. Furthermore, the situation gets chaotic when her vengeful attacker from the past shows up wanting her blood and Mark’s diamond stash. What ensues is a messy battle of blood and wits.
Unfortunately, Megan Fox does not possess the acting skills needed for this particular type of story (even with minimal dialogue throughout the film). The visuals become the aspect that does most of the heavy lifting, with the heroine clad in a white blood-soaked shirt for the majority of the film – utilized in promotional shots and posters against the stark contrast of crisp white snow.
However, it is difficult to get that emotional connection with your main protagonist in a fight for her life when her makeup manages to stay intact after a vicious struggle of being thrown about pulled across the ground. It gives her character too much of a doll-like appearance which is the reason for her failure to be taken seriously in what should be an extremely terrifyingly, frantic, and dangerous situation. If the actress would have been able to drum up at least a fraction of the emotional turmoil that she displayed in her 2009 horror-comedy Jennifer’s Body, then Emma would have been the perfect mixture of vulnerability and determination.
The plot is nothing that we haven’t seen before and is a mere shadow of Stephen King’s phenomenal Gerald’s Game, executed brilliantly on screen by director Mike Flanagan. While Till Death manages to graze the surface of the horror genre, it successfully hits the adrenaline peak geared towards being more action oriented. There are no jump scares, but full use is made of the isolated atmosphere combined with heavy gusts of wind accompanied by a consistent snowfall. Emma’s determination, in this flight or fight circumstance, manages to hit all the right marks – especially when pitted against the villain, Bobby Ray portrayed by actor Callan Mulvey (has just got one of those faces) who throws himself into the role.
After a shaky start, Till Death serves as an extreme metaphoric representation of the burden created when someone enters into marriage either for the wrong reason or because they feel obligated.