Death Count (2022) Movie Review – Just enough for indie horror fans to like

Just enough for indie horror fans to like

Alongside found-footage horror, gory, visceral escape-room thrillers have been a mainstay in the horror/thriller genre. Even way back in the 90’s, with the indie masterpiece Cube, these films are consistent, relatively straightforward and are intriguing enough to keep you watching until the end.

Saw is probably the most prolific of them all, taking a simple concept and absolutely running with it (and then running it into the ground through subsequent sequels.)

Death Count borrows heavily from that concept and is unashamedly gory, playing on all the tropes of the genre. It’s not a particularly difficult movie to understand but there’s just enough mystery to keep you watching.

The story centers on Rachel, who awakens alongside 7 other people inside adjacent cells. With a toolbox on the floor and cameras watching their every move, a chain around their neck keeps them compliant. Oh, and the explosive inside their skull too.

Overseen by the warden, each of these characters have a connection, having worked at the same high school together. They’re forced to play a game of “And Then You Will”, competing against one another to gain the most amount of “likes” online in order to survive.

Essentially, these guys have to injure themselves in increasingly gory and gnarly ways to appease those watching and stay alive. Failing that, they’ll be “eliminated” (see: killed)

The premise is simple, although this film does get very gory. From mustard gas and being burnt alive through to removing teeth and stabbing hands, this film does not mess about. All of this is done with practical effects too, allowing one to get up close and personal, seeing everything in squeamish detail through some extreme close-up shots. Those with a weak stomach should probably steer clear of this one.

The story is pretty average across the board, with the inclusion of several detectives who scramble to track down the players before it’s too late. This works well to take a break from the action and keep the suspense going, although there is a slightly heavy-handed message about social media woven into all this. To be honest though, I don’t think it’s needed.

The film speaks for itself about the extreme lengths some people will go to be liked, and the fascination people have with watching this sort of thing – especially if the interviews during the end-credits are anything to go by.

Speaking of ending, Death Count feels like it needs another 5 or 10 minutes to round out the story as the conclusion feels super rushed. While the ideas are compelling and I get what the filmmakers were trying to do, some of the characters aren’t fleshed out all that well and for the survivors (no spoilers here!) their journey just sorta…ends. I was expecting a bit of resolution, showing them returning to their lives having learned something or changing their ways but instead we just fade to black.

As an indie flick, it’s worth bearing in mind that this film doesn’t have a massive budget so you shouldn’t go in expecting world-class acting. That will be obvious for anyone familiar with B-movies, and across the board the acting here is pretty average. If you can look past that though, Death Count does have some charm – especially for those who enjoy Saw-esque horrors.

Death Count doesn’t really reinvent the wheel so much as keep it turning. This film unashamedly leans into the tried and tested tropes of the genre and never looks like deviating from there.

Death Count is incredibly gory but the mystery surrounding who the Warden is and why these people are being forced to play is enough of a hook to keep you watching. This one should get enough “likes” to please indie horror fans.

Death Count will be released in the US on July 19th 2022


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  • Verdict - 5.5/10
    5.5/10
5.5/10

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