[Given what I'm hearing of the response to Andreas Schaap's Must Love Death at Fantasia, I'm expecting to see some contrasting reviews to this one in the near future but here's Olivier D'Amour with our first look at the German horror-comedy.]
Montreal held the world premiere of Andreas Schaap’s Must Love Death, which is quite a good fit for the Fantasia audience. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it at all. Not one bit. It wants to be some sort of romantic comedy/torture horror hybrid, but ends up not doing justice to either genre. A sensitive musician/songwriter unlucky in love (groan) makes a suicide pact with some strangers in a cabin in the woods but soon realizes there’s a change of plan. Then blood starts flowing. There’s also this woman he’s in love with but honestly, she doesn’t do much throughout the movie.
That’s about it, really. It wants to be so many things at one (romance, screwball comedy, extreme horror) that it fails almost on every level. The torture horror is nothing new, especially in 2009, the jokes are mostly lame and clichéd, its attempts at poignancy come off as insanely cheesy (cue the saccharine score and awful “singer/songwriter” songs). There’s also an overall clunkiness to it, like a short film padded to a feature’s length. A lot of scenes feel tacked on and it all seems pretty directionless and flat. Additionally, the film becomes increasingly predictable as it goes on and while there are a few genuine laughs, like insisting that the movie takes place in the US and making the almost all-German cast speak English, they are few and far between. And the few times it does take itself seriously, it falls flat on its face.
I was reminded of 2007’s much more successful Murder Party, a horror comedy with a somewhat similar storyline but a sharper wit. Its hero was a lovable loser and even if we didn’t know a lot about him, he was much more endearing that Must Love Death’s two bland, forgettable leads. We can admire the director’s ambition though, we’ll see what he comes up next but in the meantime, Must Love Death is a failed experiment. To be fair, I should add that most people in the theatre seemed to be having a good time, so I guess I’m in the minority here.
Review by Olivier D'Amour.