Studio: MarVista Entertainment
Director: Anthony DiBlasi
Writer: Laura Brennan
Producer: Margaret H. Huddleston, Hannah Pillemer, Suzanne Lyons, Michael Tarzian
Stars: Heather Morris, Ryan Doom, Perez Hilton, Chad Addison, Tess Christiansen, Marci Miller, Tatum Miranda, Johnny Ramey, Jason Tobias, Skyler Vallo, Jake Busey
On the eve of their ten-year reunion, a group of high school classmates are stalked by a masked maniac in a cap and gown.
It’s been ten years since good girl Gaby’s graduating class from E. Smith High School last gathered as a group to drink up, hook up, and bestow “Most Likely to” monikers on one another. Ten years is also how much time has passed since those same people teamed up to humiliate favorite bullying target “John Doe” with a yearbook prank designating him “Most Likely to Die.”
A pre-party is planned on the eve of the reunion and all of the usual stereotypes are invited: the jock, the joker, the jilted ex, the stripteasing sexpot, the prissy perfectionist, the lone black guy, even a suspicious groundskeeper with rotten teeth and a proclivity for leering at bikini-clad beauties from the clandestine comfort of a nearby bush. Then there is the uninvited guest carrying a cap, gown, menacing mask, and apparent grudge against everyone assembled.
As the former friends start falling victim to customized kills based on their “most likely to” predictions, the party quickly goes from mirthfully merry to murderous mystery. If Gaby and company have any hope of avoiding a frightful fate, they need to unmask their stalker fast, even with everyone fearful that the fiend’s face could belong to a familiar friend.
Sound like a standard slasher film setup? It is. “Most Likely to Die” is fit to burst with tired tropes including, but certainly not limited to, cellphones without signals, broken down vehicles, and an impossibly complex plan to creatively kill characters as they dimwittedly wander off one at a time. And here is the unfunny thing about that:
Nothing about the above, not one single overdone element, is presented with even the slightest hint of irony. “Most Likely to Die” is not a throwback homage to bygone horror. It is not a playful pastiche of the slasher whodunit. With neither cynicism nor celebration for the clichés its exploits, “Most Likely to Die” exists in a vanilla vacuum of obliviousness to the fact that it has nothing original, interesting, or entertaining to add to an overflowing subgenre with no use for another recycled rehash. Having zero personality as either a clever chiller or self-aware parody, “Most Likely to Die” is simply an uninventive movie 20-30 years behind its time.
Anthony DiBlasi, director of “Cassadaga” (review here) and “Last Shift” (review here), sidesteps his stomping ground of supernatural horror to stab at a straightforward slasher. But he, screenwriter Laura Brennan, and the entire cast approach the material with such stale seriousness that the script plays out as tiresomely silly.
The pre-title murder is first discovered shortly after the thirty-minute mark, although the movie is far from finished with first act exposition. Despite staring straight at a mutilated corpse strung up with Christmas lights, everyone seems to think now is a good time to continue character development by pausing for multiple heart-to-heart conversations. Never mind the twisted psychopath in our midst. Let’s bury the hatchet about our friendship falling out of touch and an affair with Honors English teacher Miss Miller.
It’s already absurd watching adults work through high school melodrama when everyone has moved on to frying much bigger fish as a big money athlete, pro poker shark, TV star, etc. It’s more ridiculous when there is a masked maniac on the loose, yet the soundtrack chimes in with sad piano keys as if soap opera drama is somehow something anyone should be concerned about.
For red herring suspense, the film introduces some of the stupidest potential suspects and motives possible. MIA hockey player Ray was recently cut by the New York Rangers, so he must be on edge. Maybe he was checked so hard into a concussion during his last game that slicing and dicing his girlfriend and buddies seems like a smart way to occupy early retirement. Definitely don’t forget “John Doe.” The movie won’t let you anyway, seeing as how several minutes are spent recapping everyone’s collective abuse of the poor boy in definitive detail for anyone who needs backstory like a sledgehammer to the skull.
Heather Morris is highly likable as leading lady Gaby. Her earnest effort lends an authentic girl-next-door quality that charms, but doesn’t come with enough charisma to carry the entire cast. Perez Hilton, in a role the filmmaker swears is not stunt casting, lays on the exaggerated shrieks as loud as one might fear from the notably animated gossip blogger. Hilton is turned up to 11 when everyone else stays below five, with DiBlasi steering clear of tuning performances to the same pitch.
The only points the movie earns are for looking crisp visually and executing well enough on a technical level. Editing and pacing are fine too, though they would fare far better if they didn’t have to staple in a stunted scene of forced sentimentality between each action sequence.
Everything else about the film? Disappointed thumbs way down. Underneath its headshot in the horror movie yearbook, the entry for “Most Likely to Die” might as well read, “Most Likely to Be Forgotten.”
Review Score: 35