Writer/director/actor Ian Tripp (Bag-Head, Sincerely Saul) and his co-director Ryan Schafer (Sincerely Saul, Normy) would like to invite you to take a little trip. Just a simple jaunt in the company of documentary making duo Calvin (Ian Tripp) and Mark (Joshua Wyble – Manny Moondog, The Evil Rises) to visit with horror director Alfred Costella (Vinny Curran – The Endless, Resolution) as he creates his first film in ten years. His magnum opus, titled Everybody Dies By the End.
It’s a simple enough conceit. Following a disastrous TV interview that effectively destroyed his career, Alfred (Al) is back to make one final movie, the horror experience to top them all, and he wants to make sure that people see it. The audience comes along, viewing everything through the eye of Calvin’s camera as he documents the filming experience, interviews the cast and crew, and records all the behind-the-scenes action. Or does he? Is there more going on than everyone is willing to talk about? Who or what are the Children of Celluloid? What’s in Al’s “red room” and what is his ultimate plan for this film?
The first half of the film is, by and large, your fairly standard mockumentary fare. The cast and crew are dysfunctional, Al is a prima donna who swings from joviality to fury, isolated and protected by his two right-hand yes-men who stroke his ego no matter how insane or outlandish his outbursts become and the entire project seems doomed from the first day of shooting.
Little by little, though, the breadcrumbs are laid and the hints are dropped. Offhand comments from Al and the rest of the crew plant the first seeds of doubt in the audience that everything isn’t as innocuous as it seems. By the time both Calvin and the audience truly understand what’s going on, it’s too late to do anything except watch it all play out.
All in all, Everybody Dies By The End is a fun little ride. It treads the line between serious and camp with aplomb, but there is one big fly in the ointment of this otherwise entertaining black comedy. A monkey in the wrench, so to speak, and that’s Alfred Costella. His character suffers from the same issues that affected Russell Wynn in Hell House LLC 3. Namely, why would anyone follow him?
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It’s never really made clear to us, the audience, how Al has such a tight hold on the people around him. There are occasional flashes of charisma, but they’re few and far between, certainly not enough to convince a viewer that he’s capable of convincing others to go along with his plans to this level. Sure, he had some successful cult horror films back in the day, but, to steal a phrase, what has he done for anyone lately?
But honestly, don’t think too hard about that. Just follow along with Calvin and Mark. Let them be your eyes and ears as they document this manic little production. Accept. Celebrate. Immortalise. And remember, everybody has to die by the end.
Everybody Dies By The End had its World Premiere at Frightfest 2022, and will be out on general release soon.