“To Your Last Death”, an animated horror film is an odd mashup of concepts, but all in, it’s pretty good fun.
On the one hand it’s got some obvious social-political commentary its fairly desperate to shove in your face, but what is more interesting, is its torture-porn setup coupled with an overarching plotline which is very reminiscent of ‘The Cabin in the Woods’.
Synopsis: “In order to save her siblings, a young woman takes on her father and the powerful entity known as Gamemaster, who ensnares humans into diabolical plots while her species gambles on the outcome”
So, to delve a little deeper, the aforementioned young woman – a stereotypical left-leaning activist with daddy issues – is essentially framed for the slaughter of her family at the hands of her megalomaniac father. He invites them all to a family gathering then plays a quick game of ‘Saw’ with them, having them each face traps in the vein of what he considers their shortcomings to be.
Well, anyhow, we join our lead character having been framed, although, absurdly, as she is being interviewed by the police she is confronted by an entity, a god-like being, who gives her the opportunity to go back in time and try to put things right – a number of times.
What this sets up for, is that despite the minimal amount of animated cast, we get to see repetition of the violence and set pieces towards the lead and her siblings.
This animated film is pretty violent, its art style is shot a bit like a comic strip, perhaps not as off the wall with animated effects as other modern animation, but the whole affair remains very consistent through its run time. The traps are fairly interesting, again, not as imaginative as you might perhaps expect from a film medium where imagination is literally the boundary, but there’s plenty of blood dripping everywhere and enough black humour to keep it entertaining.
The voice acting has a solid cast, and as a result the vocalisation of each character is strong, making some of the more poignant scenes have more gravitas than perhaps the scripting deserves. That might have come across a little more negative than I had intended it, and don’t get me wrong, the story and scripts aren’t bad, but there’s a lot of cliché ‘pity-me’ left wing vs totalitarian bigoted evil right dialogue exchanges which I felt struggled to convey anything but the same tired message. Its safe, too safe, and considering effort put into the animation, and the choice of medium, I was anticipating it might have had a bit more to say.
That said, the film’s bizarre choice to include a set of gambling deities provided a welcome diversion to a plot I was worried was going struggle to go the distance. There are some really cruel plot line twists which come as a result of the gaming gods, which certainly elevated my enjoyment of the latter half of the film.
Overall, “To Your Last Death” is a fun film. I don’t watch a lot of animation to be honest, so when a film like this comes along, I am always interested to see horror delivered in a different style. With ‘To Your Last Death’ however, it ironically felt pretty familiar! Still, from a technical perspective, the animation was very impressive, and the torture scenes still packed a punch in the violence department; perhaps I am a bit too old and or cynical for its plot efforts to have clicked as intended?