Fantasia 09 Review: MUST LOVE DEATH

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Fantasia 09 Review: MUST LOVE DEATH

[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.

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Andreas SchaapFabian WinkelmannSami LorisManon KahleJeff BurrellPeter FarkasComedyHorrorRomance

More about Must Love Death

pkazeeJuly 12, 2009 2:38 AM

Aside from an uneven first 15 minutes and a couple of awkward performances by non-native English speakers in English-speaking roles, I thought this film worked wonderfully. From the moment the suicide pact is revealed not to be quite what it seems, I was completely seduced by the humor which is somehow black and charming at the same time.

JoshuaJuly 13, 2009 5:17 AM

Everyone has a right to express their opinions on film. However your opinions should stay on the comment section of any major web site. You are a horrible writer and it ticks me off that Twitch actually posted your review. This might not be the best film at the festival but even if you did not quite enjoy it, you must have noticed it’s excellent production value. Keep in mind it is a first feature done in film school and this hardworking director is looking for distribution. I hate to think this film would lose out on a distributor because of a shit load of hacks who can’t write for shit but somehow still manage to review films online. Shame on Twitch for posting reviews like this.

Todd BrownJuly 13, 2009 6:06 PM

If the film loses out on distribution it'll be because the buyers don't think it's good enough. One review - two, actually, since both writers who saw this in Fantasia didn't like it and pointed out the exact same flaws - will not make or break a film. Hard working or not, the film's got to be good enough to sell.

And there's nothing wrong with Olivier's writing, he just happens not to share your opinion.