Synopsis: After running away on her wedding day, a bride-to-be must fight for survival against her former fiancé and his seven deadly groomsmen.
Stars: Natalie Burn, Cam Gigandet, Ser’Darius Blain, D.Y. Sao, Neb Chupin, Sam Lee Herring, Orlando Jones, Alan Silva, Pancho Moler, Jason Patric, Nicole Arlyn
Director: Timothy Woodward Jr.
TMMM Score: (2/10)
Review: The absolute worst part of this gig is when a bad movie comes knocking on your door. I was talking at a screening recently with another critic way more intelligent than I am (Brian Eggert – Deep Focus Review – check him out!), and we agreed that while they may be fun to write about, a stinker is ultimately no one’s idea of a good time. First off, it’s a chore to sit through, and secondly, it can be a rough go for a nice Midwestern guy like me that wants to find a least one kind thing to say. In that same conversation, I doomed myself by remarking how I was on a run of good movies…only to have that very screening I was at be canceled due to projection issues and then coming home to watch Til Death Do Us Part.
The nicest opening I can offer on this fiasco is that there’s a rip-roaring neon-drenched ’80s actioner buried deep in the muck of director Timothy Woodward Jr’s action-thriller. So deep, in fact, that the director and most of his cast cannot unearth it during a punishingly long run time played over what has to be one of the worst soundtracks I’ve heard in ages. What could have been a slick (and short) vehicle for star Natalie Burn (the only reason to consider a viewing) is a slack bore that doles out propulsive action in tiny doses, ham-sandwiching them in-between lumbering scenes of overacting.
It’s the wedding day for the Bride (Burn, Black Adam, a somewhat limited but still engaging actress) and Groom (Ser’Darius Blain, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle). If the beginning feels like a forced send-up of a typical Hallmark romance, it’s the movie’s only attempt at creativity. Just as she’s about to walk down the aisle, the Bride doesn’t look so sure about that long journey to her mate, and that’s when the film makes its first of many jumps in time. Sometimes it goes forward to later in the evening when the Bride has high-tailed it out of the church and is being pursued by the Groomsmen (including, bizarrely, Orlando Jones), who are tasked with bringing her back to get nuptialitized. In other moments we hop backward to when the Bride and Groom meet a mysterious couple (The Lost Boys’ Jason Patric and Nicole Arlyn) while on a tropical vacation.
I’ll play nice and not reveal how and why the backstory plays into the current events, but let’s say that the Bride has a vested reason for wanting to live an independent life away from the Groom and his band of merry murderous men. Lucky for her, she’s skilled in hand-to-hand combat (Burn does most of her stunts) and can dispatch them without needing more than a few household tools. The trouble is Chad Law and Shane Dax Taylor’s script has so much preamble before these Mortal Kombat-esque duels that you’ll already be asking to tap out by the time fists fly.
Intentionally, I’ve held back on speaking about the Best Man (Cam Gigandet, Without Remorse) for as long as possible, but he must get his due. Gigandet’s otherworldly overacting alone would have sunk the film, but then you go and add his persistent cool cat dancing and finger snapping to a soundtrack featuring songs that only sound like Sinatra standards (rights issues much?), and you truly start to watch the movie through splayed fingers. Overall, there is plenty of bad acting in Til Death Do Us Part, but the level to which Gigandet munches on the scenery is massive.
Inevitable comparisons to 2019’s Ready or Not are likely, but aside from the movies sharing a bride being hunted down and forced to defend herself, they couldn’t be more different in tone. No one in Til Death Do Us Part got the memo that they were making a throwback survival thriller that would have done boffo business in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Everyone is operating in a different movie, often while sharing the same scene. So there is a misalignment with the film’s ultimate goal. While the production design by Markos Keyto is impressive (I loved the moody lighting with its striking colors and endless shadows), the film itself falls far short of its aspirations.
Releases Exclusively in Theaters Nationwide on August 4