To Your Last Death is a new horror film from director Jason Axinn, and one that if it was done any other way wouldn’t stand out half as much as it does. However, To Your Last Death is something pretty rare in the world of horror films, as it’s animated. Purposely animated in a way to evoke images of graphic novels, the film very much feels like someone threw together Saw, Groundhog Day, and Archer. And it’s pretty good for it.
The story begins where most would end, with our hero Miriam (Dani Lennon) walking out of a building, covered in blood and carrying an axe, having survived something awful inside. She’s picked up by police, and we next see her in hospital, where she’s telling her story to a detective. She reveals that she’d been summoned to the building by her father, Cyrus DeKalb (Ray Wise), who she and her siblings had not spoken to in years, ever since costing him a political career.
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Cyrus has gathered Miriam and his other children together to announce that he’s dying, and that before he goes he wants revenge on them, trapping them in horrific and deadly situations. Fortunately, Miriam was able to escape. However, the police don’t believe her story, and think that she’s behind the killings. That’s when she’s approached by The Gamemaster (Morena Baccarin), a being of great power, who tells Miriam that she can send her back in time to try for a different outcome.
Miriam is sent back in time, and gets the opportunity to try to save her siblings. However, the Gamemaster isn’t doing this out of the goodness of her heart, as she and other powerful beings are watching events unfold, betting on their outcome. With killers out to get her, and god-like beings changing reality, can Miriam and her family make it out alive?
The initial set-up for the film sounded interesting enough, but the inclusion of this fantastical, science-fiction element changes it from something that feels like it’s been done before into a whole new thing. It makes the film unpredictable, and you never know what to expect to happen. And even then, there’s no guarantee that what has happened can’t be erased away and changed. It means that you’re always having to keep on your toes, and expect the unexpected.
The fact that the film is animated helps a lot too, not only in making the gore and violence more palatable, but making it stand out. We don’t have the gritty realism of early Saw films, or the awful CGI of later Saw films when the siblings are in their traps. Instead, things are either over the top vibrant, with bright colours, or they’re hyper stylised. The animation helps the grosser parts of the film for those who might not normally be up for a film full of gore and death traps, whilst also making it stand out amongst its competitors.
One of the best things about it is how open it is. It might be following Miriam and her story, but it establishes a much bigger world in the Gamemaster and her cohorts. It means that there could be more stories in this universe, more events where the Gamemaster comes for entertainment. Whilst this film is a stand alone I could easily see a slew of sequels, or even an animated series. Hopefully we’ll get at least one more thing set in this universe to see a bit more.
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To Your Last Death might not be the most original or amazing horror film you’ll ever see, but it’s a hell of a lot better than it really has any right to be. It looks unique, it blends different genres together in fun ways, and it has a great cast. Definitely one that’s worth a watch.
To Your Last Death is out now on Digital HD, Cable VOD, and Blu-ray.