One is as straightforward as slashers get, the other takes a very odd structural approach to the genre. I was pretty surprised by which one I liked better.
MOST LIKELY TO DIE (2015)
Director Anthony DiBlasi is racking up the horror, but his films are hit or miss for me. I’m a fan of Dread and Last Shift, but wasn’t too impressed with Cassadaga. And while Most Likely to Die caters to my most basic slasher tastes, it falls very flat.
After an intro kill scene (that happens off screen), a bunch of 20-somethings gathers at a house for a 10-year reunion pre-party.
The crew this time includes Heather “Brittany S. Pierce” Morris of Glee as the main girl, Perez Hilton as the resident squealing gay, and Jake Busey as, well, the creepy old weird dude. Yes, he plays his father.
There’s way too much cheesy, uninteresting rehashing of high school drama as they all get reacquainted. They also recall the kid they used to torment and would degrade even further by only referring to him as “John Doe.” Uh-oh. Finally, they find the body of the first murdered friend…and then pretty much go back to arguing over their old high school drama.
The basic premise is that they get killed off based on their yearbook superlatives, but that idea falls apart quickly. The film would have been better off just sticking with its strongest deaths—the killer, dressed for graduation and wearing a mask, apparently has a blade lining the square rim of a graduation cap and uses it a couple of times to simply slice victims open. Totally awesome—but a couple of times isn’t enough.
Unfortunately, the kills are pretty tame overall, not to mention few and far between. There are way too many survivors when all is said and done. There’s only one good jump scare and Heather gets a chase scene (yay!). Perez is the gay comic relief and pulls it off pretty well, but the humor seems out of place in an otherwise serious film, so his shrill performance is more likely to garner him more haters. Also, during the denouement, the killer gives a rather overly long motivation monologue. Finally, the film sets us up for a sequel that could pretty much take place minutes after this one ends.
I love my slashers, but honestly, unless Most Likely to Die is slapped onto a multi-movie disc set, I personally wouldn’t add it to my collection.
THE TENANT (2010)
This messy little flick is fucking awesome, IMO. The first kill scene alone rules, even though it means nothing to the rest of the movie. Guy and girl sneak into an abandoned asylum and get massacred—particularly the girl. So sad. She had such a pretty face….
Next, The Tenant does the weirdest thing. What should have been a 5-minute intro scene showing how the killer came to be is instead a 40-minute mini-movie about an incident 28 years earlier. A doctor at the asylum is trying to create a cure for all that ails humanity. Naturally, he’s experimenting with patients, which serves as an excuse to have horror icon Michael Berryman in chains for a 5-minute scene.
The doctor is also being urged by his pregnant wife to stop experimenting…which pisses off his assistant, who has plans of her own.
This first part has the kind of cheesy, 80s direct-to-video feel I love, and actually reminds me of many movies of the period about devious scientists and their experiments going really wrong—Re-animator, From Beyond, etc. Indie horror actor Randy Molnar is perfectly cast as the doctor. He looks and acts like he was born to play the dastardly scientist in 80s horror.
40 minutes into the film, and it is time to do a one-eighty! We’re back to the present, the film looks and feels like a modern slasher from the 2000s, and a bunch of deaf kids and some adults are driving in a van in the rain—with no explanation as to why they’re all together or where they’re headed. Does it matter? No. Their vehicle breaks down, so they seek shelter in the nearby abandoned asylum!
Within minutes, deaf kids are being yanked through walls and we meet our big, hideous killer.
The death scenes are fast and vicious, not to mention wickedly gory in some cases. There’s also an eye-rolling twist concerning the connection one of the characters has to the asylum.
In other words, I immediately added The Tenant to my movie collection after streaming it.