Til Death Do Us Part is a purposefully schlocky action-thriller containing a bunch of cheesy refrains, blood, and kick-ass action to entertain genre fans and straight-to-video enthusiasts.
Is 2023 the year of the revenge thriller and action-thriller throwbacks? It seems like genre filmmakers worldwide are returning to the B-movie roots to create campy and purposefully schlocky pictures with dashes of exploitation cinema without going too deep into that subgenre’s rabbit hole of lurid and shocking content. These modern reiterations of these genre films have way less amount of subtext than what came before – modern audiences might even question their purpose as they are disgusted by them. But then again, these types of films are cheaply produced to cash in a quick buck by exploiting or referring to contemporary cultural anxieties. The latest one to be released this year is Til Death Do Us Part, brought to us by the creators of Final Destination. And it is as ridiculous and baffling as you might expect it to be. But it’s also far more entertaining and campy than anticipated.
Til Death Do Us Part is an action-thriller-like film in the vein of Ready or Not and Kill Bill, where a bride fights for her life against an array of ruthless aggressors. In the Samara Weaving-led film, the bride is attacked by her husband’s family; meanwhile, in this one, she is hunted down by the best man’s groomsmen. The film’s opening chimes in some rom-com tropes, making it almost feel like a parody of a Lifetime movie. Everybody is getting ready for the big day. The bride (Natalie Burn) is putting on her lavish dress; the groom (Ser’Darius Blain) is hanging out with his fellow groomsmen alongside the best man (Cam Gigandet). So far, it feels like an inoffensive tale of romance and ever-lasting love. But, as you might anticipate, things aren’t going to be that sweet for long.
The grooms and his boys aren’t what they seem; these guys are highly trained mercenaries. And when the bride bails on her fiancée because she doesn’t want to commit to remaining a professional assassin, she gets hunted by this wild pack of seven tuxedoed killers. They thought taking her down was going to be a simple task. But they are very wrong. The bride uses sneak attacks, chainsaws, knives, and a bunch of other weapons to protect herself from these revenge-seeking men. If there’s one thing you shouldn’t do before watching Til Death Do Us Part is taking a glimpse at the trailer, as it spoils way too many of its surprises, kills, and twists. I know selling a B-movie to a wider audience in the modern era is quite tricky. But you shouldn’t tend to show most (if not everything) your film has to offer in two minutes, specifically when the runtime is less than ninety minutes.
In addition, the poster is made in a way that makes the person seeing it believe the film is titled “Final Destination: Til Death Do Us Part”, a brilliant name for an upcoming reboot sequel of that franchise. Outside of those promotional issues, the film delivers exactly what it says on the tin: a B-movie with great kills, funny (yet baffling) lines, and a purposefully schlocky look. One shouldn’t expect more or less from Til Death Do Us Part. It is a nuts and bolts action-thriller with some favorable amounts of splatter and camp. And I went with its ridiculous self for the entire runtime. When you compare this film with its many counterparts in size and scope, particularly the plentiful John Wick clones, you realize this one stands out.
Of course, it doesn’t beat the real thing. But there’s something about direct-to-video (and back then, straight-to-DVD) features that can’t be replicated when you put an extra million-dollar load on the project. These are stripped-down genre films influenced by the work of B-movie master Roger Corman. The modern ones are not up to par with the 60s and 70s boom of the “movies your parents don’t want you to see”. Director Timothy Woodward Jr. has dedicated his filmmaking career to crafting plenty of B-movies, most of which are pretty hard to find due to how obscure they are. From the ones I have seen because I was tempted to see his previous work before watching his latest, American Violence and The Call, his films are pretty bad. Yet it feels that he has finally found the one project that clicked with him as a filmmaker with Til Death Do Us Part.
Til Death Do Us Part and The Wrath of Becky show that there is indeed a market for these types of films. They remind you of the straight-to-DVD thrillers that appeared on discount baskets back in the 2000s. Somehow, during that time, those films were consumed significantly – you saw plenty of them playing randomly on TV, or you’d pick one out just for fun because you recognized a big name in them and wondered, “Hey, why not?”. Those types of films are still being made nowadays. But they don’t get a single second in the spotlight. I think movies like these should continue to be made by big studios because they don’t require much money and, if marketed correctly, they could turn a profit.
Last year, Terrifier 2 let us know that horror fans and gore hounds will show up to theaters if you bring them quality products. Word of mouth elevated that film’s success, even if it mainly revolved around people passing out and vomiting when watching the movie. Studios just need to know how to market their films; they need to take time with their “minor” films and now throw them out to theaters without much promotion – leaving them to die at a time when streaming services are releasing junk in the boatloads. B-movies tend to disappear in this expansive world of modern cinema, especially since the pandemic. And it is films like the aforementioned Terrifier 2 and Til Death Do Us Part (amongst other titles) remind us that not everything has to be a huge spectacle or multi-million-dollar project to get the audience engaged or entertained.
Til Death Do Us Part may not be near as good as its modern inspirations, Kill Bill and Ready or Not. And it is not competently made in terms of cinematography and screenplay, as it is cheap, cheesy, and somewhat trashy, although the film itself knows it is all of those things. But, for what it is, the movie is an entertaining and bloody throwback to the low-budget revenge thrillers of the past. And while it may certainly not be your favorite film of the year, I think you could give it a shot if you like kick-ass action and ridiculous lines with a campy tone.
Til Death Do Us Part will be released in US theaters on August 4, 2023.