With its murky black-and-white visuals, Matt Eames’ thriller Till Death presents an interesting premise, but, while it aims for Hitchcock-ian suspense, it falls short due to its lackluster script and drab characters.
The film begins with Rose (Nicole Kontolefa) meeting with a charismatic, yet undeniably creepy, doctor named Garrett (Peter Alexandrou) whom she hires to help deal with her dying husband. Flash forward a short time later, and Garrett and Rose are married, happily at first. Yet Garrett’s overly controlling demeanour begins to wear on Rose. She suspects he’s cheating on her, and after Garrett becomes concerned she’s going to leave him, he decides to spike her contact lens solution to blind her.
Though she has no proof, Rose becomes convinced he was the one who blinded her, and worse yet, she discovers he is having an affair and may be trying to kill her. Completely broken, she decides to take matters into her own hands and exact revenge on her monster of a husband.
The narrative is messy, never fully justifying the actions of any of the characters to even a remotely satisfying level. Why is Garrett going through such lengths to keep Rose by his side only to decide to kill her a moment later? Is Rose some sort of meal ticket for him, and that’s why the filmmakers make a point to repeatedly cut to closeups of him tearing checks out of a checkbook?
I really had no idea what was going on in the minds of any of these characters at any time throughout the film, which is odd considering the front half of the run time is spent with Garrett droning on forever in poorly crafted voiceover. Then the perspective inexplicably shifts to Rose, who has no voiceover.
Visually, the choice of presenting the film in black and white was a good one, as the foggy beach landscapes of Rose’s property really popped. The lighting was often too dark, however, making me wonder if this was converted to black and white in post or if these shots were just odd choices made by the cinematographer.
After Rose makes the decision to get even with her husband, she must carry out her plan while blind, a risky venture that provides some of the film’s tensest moments. With Daredevil-like senses, she’s able to incapacitate her target while preventing him from reaching his phone and calling for help. Though not fully capitalizing on the potential of this situation, it lends itself to the most captivating moments of the film.
Margaret Maria and Craig McConnell’s score also proves to be a highlight, with classic Psycho-esque screeching of strings attempting to ramp up the mounting suspense. It feels out of place at times and doesn’t always match up to the events unfolding on screen, but it was well composed and added to the ambiance.
Till Death has some good ideas but winds up feeling more like a student film project than a fully realized feature that’s ready for a wide audience. The plot is messy; the performances are underwhelming; and the added voiceover is pedestrian. Matt Eames shows talent as a director, but Till Death is a debut that feels like a debut.