Review: Die

A bunch of seemingly random people wake up to find they are locked in cells at an unknown facility, greeted by a man (John Pyper-Ferguson) who forces them at gunpoint to engage in a series of die-rolling scenarios whereby the fate of one of the others is determined. How severe that fate actually is, is left up to the chance roll of the die, but it’s extremely likely that something bad will happen. Meanwhile, the group try to figure out just what it is that they share, which has brought them into this situation and try to forge an escape plan. Away from all this, police detective Caterina Murino is trying to track down her missing partner Elias Koteas, a depressed cop who happens to be one of the unwilling participants in this sick and twisted game. Stephen McHattie has a cameo in a prologue as the father of Pyper-Ferguson.

This dreary 2010 Dominic James (his first major directing gig) film tries to take the basic “Saw” idea and transplant it into the psychological thriller genre. A Canadian-Italian co-production, the results are a lot less unpleasant than some of the worst in the “Saw” franchise, but it’s no more successful or interesting in its moralising. Scripted by Domenico Salvaggio (who comes from a short film background), I think it’s pretty bloody boring, though the underrated Aussie-born John Pyper-Ferguson is perfectly fine as the chief villain. It’s not a great role, but Pyper-Ferguson is a real talent (Does anyone else get a Charlie Manson vibe from him? Just me?). Elias Koteas, however, is slumming it in a boring part.

Why does everyone here speak in hushed tones here? Like many low-budget Canadian films, it looks monumentally drab, poorly lit and filmed in browns and bilious greens for the most part. This seems to be intentional on the part of cinematographer Giulio Pietromarchi, but that doesn’t mean I have to appreciate it.

If you like this basic idea (from a story by Nick Mead) but aren’t an outright horror fan, maybe you’ll get something out of this, but I largely didn’t. It’s more drama than thriller or horror, and seriously morose. I guess the die rolling adds a real cruelty to it, but it’s not an especially interesting cruelty, outside of providing a cool, dual-meaning title. Pretty uninteresting stuff.

Rating: C-


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