Last year, Anthony DiBlasi’s Last Shift was a sleeper indie horror hit. After it popped up on Netflix, it garnered a ton of favorable reviews and even made it on to some Top 10 of 2015 lists (our own Trace listed it as one of the most surprising movies of the year). Last Shift’s impressive word-of-mouth success raised expectations for DiBlasi’s follow-up, Most Likely to Die – a film written by Laura Brennan during the slasher resurgence of the 90s that has sat on a shelf until now.
While Last Shift was loaded with effective atmosphere and anchored by a heroine you could root for, Most Likely to Die is standard slasher tropes across the board. From its story beats to its kills, there’s really nothing here that horror fans haven’t seen a dozen times before. A pack of attractive people head to a remote house where they have casual sex, endure relationship drama, and are picked off one by one by a masked killer. In this case, their unique high school yearbook superlatives inspire their kills: “Most Likely to Break Your Heart,” “Most Likely to Get the Last Laugh,” “Most Likely to Have Their Name in Lights.” You get the gist.
The group has assembled for a 10-year reunion. Quickly they reminisce about how kick ass they were in high school and compare their varying degrees of success post-graduation. Things turn dark when they recollect a horrible prank gone wrong. The victim of their maliciousness, John Doe, wound up leaving school and is presumed dead. The killer, dressed in a graduation gown that has a few surprises attached, begins picking them off as they wonder if it could be John Doe, back for bloody revenge.
It’s a no-frills slasher story that’s light on plot and character development. Some of the characters are paper thin. For that reason, I think fans who just want to watch something brisk with a classic slasher vibe are going to dig Most Likely to Die. When the film does exceed expectations a little, it does so by being completely ridiculous. This happens mainly thanks to the killer. In the final 15 minutes or so there are some fun kills, including one that legit made me “Oh shit!” aloud. Tension is light throughout the film, but one scene set in the gated alley next to the house is particularly anxious. That was easily my favorite set piece.
Aside from those moments, there’s little that stands out. On the acting side, everyone is simply okay. The standouts are Jake Busey and Perez Hilton – a sentence I can’t believe I just wrote. Busey stands out because it’s baffling why he’s in this movie at all. He’s inserted in the film for absolutely no reason other than to creepily oogle one of the girls as she gets undressed. That’s it. And Hilton delivers some much-needed comic relief with his over the top performance and high-pitched screams. I never thought I’d want to see more Perez Hilton in a movie. What a world.
DiBlasi has a diverse list of films under his belt. From the Clive Barker adaptation Dread to the erotic Mormon thriller Missionary (which I really enjoyed) and last year’s Last Shift, he’s proved himself to be a formidable horror filmmaker on the rise. That’s why I was hoping Most Likely to Die would be more than a run-of-the-mill slasher with little surprises. If you’re just looking for a pick-em-off slasher ripped from the playbook, check it out. But if you’re interested in something meatier, wait until this one’s streaming free somewhere.
Most Likely to Die is now available on iTunes, Amazon, and other streaming services and in select theaters.