Browsing Netflix for Horror can be a mixed bag. When it comes to ‘classic’ films; for every LIFEFORCE there’s a HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP and when it comes to new films for every HUSH there’s a MOST LIKELY TO DIE.
The story tells of a group of high school friends who gather together the night before the 10-year High School Reunion. Everyone in the group has secrets, both shared and individual and it’s that shared dark past that returns to haunt them as slowly but surely they become the next class member deemed most likely to die.
Director Anthony DiBlasi had already made an impact on Netflix with the oft overlooked LAST SHIFT, and so I had some hope for this movie. An opening sequence showing an unseen killer crafting their mask and outfit shows promise but as soon as the actual protagonists appear my interest wandered. This film shares the same problem as many post-80s slasher films; None of the characters are likeable. For your average FRIDAY THE 13TH film this isn’t an issue as they have an iconic antagonist in the form of Jason, and that’s who the audience rallies behind. The film becomes less about who survives and more about how they die, however it doesn’t have the familiarity and comfort of a Jason movie and not a strong enough job is done to establish this new killer The Graduate as a formidable force. The main killing ‘gimmick’ is that notionally everyone will die in a way that relates to their Senior High year book which whilst at times original does mostly feel like a sophomoric xerox of SEVEN. The lone exception and note of originality that resonates is The Graduates main ‘slashing’ device; a Mortarboard with a razorblades edge that’s as much James Bond as it is Jason Voorhees.
The protagonists are all stereotypes and generally not very nice people, all displaying levels of arrogance that, to me personally, reminds me of all of my least favourite aspects of High School. They spend the first half of the film talking about their past, drinking, having sex and failing to connect with the audience. Even once the killing begins they still bicker with each other like there isn’t a masked murderer out to get them. It’d be palatable if the dialog was sparkling and light, full of wit and fire, but it doesn’t sparkle, it doesn’t even glimmer, it clunks and chugs along, with every gear change resonating loudly for all to hear.
Every year I live in hope that we’ll get another SCREAM, and by that I mean a slasher movie with characters you can actually care about. Sure, everyone loved Ghostface but they also loved Sidney Prescott. For many of us Randy was the person we identified with; the goofy loser who knew more about films than he did the real world. His eventual fate was heartbreaking and provoked an emotion rarely felt in a modern slasher. I live in hope that the upcoming HALLOWEEN sequel might break the cycle, or that someone will pick up MTV’s SCREAM television series which despite a slightly wobbly first run had an excellent second season and really felt like it was hitting its stride at the point where MTV announced they would be concluding with a Halloween special.
Back to MOST LIKELY TO DIE: If you have Netflix, a spare 90mins and want to see some moderately inventive kills it might be worth your time. There are few genuine scares or jump moments in the film so it could be used as background noise whilst doing the ironing. If it goes to a sequel (and I think with a bit of work the antagonist deserves another chance at infamy) I hope they spend a little bit more time focusing on creating characters that appeal to the audience and aren’t just Jock-lite chunks of cannon fodder.