This is Your Death is the Friday Spotlight Movie from the 2017 Newport Beach Film Festival. It tells the story of reality game show host, Adam Rogers (Josh Duhamel), after escaping near death, hosts a show featuring live on-air suicides.
2017 Newport Beach Film Festival
Writer: Noah Pink
Director: Giancarlo Esposito
Cast: Josh Duhamel, Famke Janssen, Sarah Wayne Callies, Giancarlo Esposito, Caitlin FitzGerald
One thing I’ve noticed is that the more known stars you have in an independent film, the more you increase its chances of it being a bad movie. This is Your Death has a lot of stars.
This is Your Death is a television reality show, that spotlights stories of tragedy and each story ends with a live in-studio suicide by subject. The writer, Noah Pink, does a halfway decent job bringing plausibility to the show and how it might actually make it on real television. But from the beginning, This is Your Death is a showcase of over-the-top characters with no self-awareness, whatsoever and tries to mix real dramatic moments with surreal satire.
John Duhamel plays Adam Rogers, the host of a “Bachelor” type reality show. Adam is almost killed with the losing bride kills the show’s groom. Adam has a front row to the horror and almost quits the business altogether, thanks to the fake nature of his show and reality television in general. Adam is grounded to the real world by his sister, Karina (Sarah Wayne Callies), who is his only family and a recovering drug-addict.
Before Adam can quit the business, he is confronted by the head of network programming, Ilana (Famka Janssen) who wants him to host a new reality show about suicide. Adam is at first angered by the idea but finds that good can come out of the show. The first example of good is during the shows first suicide, viewers can call in and donate money to the victim’s daughter. Adam is paired up with Sylvia (Caitlin FitzGerald), who is forced to produce the show, find contestants or be in breach of her contract.
I forgot to mention, Mason (Giancarlo Esposito) the network’s janitor who is holding down three jobs to keep his family’s home out of foreclosure. Any guesses about Mason’s role in the show?
Here is the main problem with This is Your Death. The idea is just so over the top that we just can’t relate to the drama and tragedy of the subject matter. I’m sure at some point the director, Giancarlo Esposito, who also plays Mason, thought that they were making some statement about problems with reality television. But in order to make a meaningful statement, you’re story must connect with the audience. It’s the tongue-in-cheek nature of the film’s events are so surreal, it becomes more of a sad joke in the end.
The dying actors should be commended for admirably acting conflict, pain, and hopelessness, but they shoot themselves in the head and now the moment becomes comedy. The movie is full of good intentions but lacks serious execution.
The story is just a little too predictable. Soon, it denigrates into a struggle for ratings, keeping sponsors and the one person with any moral center getting fired at the end. The studio audience reactions feel forced and the demise of the show is not a lesson in the suicide debate but a quick police investigation.
Ultimately the problem with This is Your Death is the premise. We just can’t buy into it and becomes one of those movies you watch and laugh, while wondering how did this film get made in the first place.
4 out of 10 stars