Reviewed by Kryten Syxx
Starring Kevin Daniels, Brandon Fobbs, James Snyder, Madeline Zima
Directed by Tom Holland
Hosted by Strike TV
Tom Holland’s mysterious project 5 or Die was finally revealed to us today as we got a first look at the pilot episode for the series which will be airing on Strike TV. The premise is simple: a seemingly supernatural killer is on the loose, showing up to claim his victims 5 minutes after they open a video e-mail containing his last blood filled stab-a-thon. If the unwilling recipient of the digital letter does not forward the message to five others, he/she has a date with the dark and disfigured stranger.
Death via the Internet isn’t something new. This year we also saw a series called VLOG from Twisted Pictures which gave us the awesome “death via exploding bong”. The series sort of faded from memory rather quickly, but 5 or Die has something to bring a lot of us horror junkies back: Tom Holland as writer and director of this new series. So how does the Child’s Play helmer do with this medium?
5 or Die has a lot going for it, but at the same time it has a few things working directly against it at the same time. On the positive side of the spectrum, this first episode looks and sounds great. The appearance of teen cast and their rooms have a nice, realistic feel to them. Unlike the glamour teens of most horror movies these days, these actors fit the bill as far as appearance.
Considering each of the three deaths all take place in small rooms, we can’t expect much as far as camera work goes, but at the same time we’re not overloaded with annoying close-ups or excessive shaky cam where it isn’t needed. Though 5 or Die may have the appearance of a low budget project, there is talent behind the camera. There’s also no flinching when body parts start falling off. You wanna see fingers getting lopped off? It is there in front of you!
The first victim lands a pretty jarring performance of a young man who isn’t sure if the murder he just saw (just prior to the events we’re shown in this pilot) really happened. With so much real and staged gore vids floating around the net, it is tough sometimes to tell the difference between a gag and flat out murder. That one reeled us in.
The next two victims, however, aren’t as strong. It would be expected if a person (in this first case it is a woman), just seeing a friend’s throat slit, may be inclined to freak the fuck out at the thought of them being just a few minutes away from playing chess with the Reaper. Oddly, there’s no freaking out or much reaction from her. What better way to fight a potentially supernatural or skilled killer? Grab a gun and hope for the best. Luckily, she makes up for her lack of initial reaction with plenty of blood curdling screams.
Our last man standing does the real caving in and almost weeps a tear for his fallen friends, but his performance falls victim to a severe case of unbelievability. Two victims sit around and wait for death to come knocking, while another brandishes a fire arm. Not one of the trio call for help or run out the door. The last piece of dead meat knows what is coming for sure and still doesn’t pick up the phone, weapon or jump out the damn window!
I don’t really blame anyone for the inability to suspend disbelief, as that was more a constraint of the budget. This is the point of a pilot as well, to figure out what will and won’t fly with the audience. If the need for exploration outside of tiny bedrooms is needed to sustain viewers, then hopefully more money will fly Mr. Holland’s way so he can provide that.
In a nutshell, this pilot is rough and serviceable at the same time. The idea has the potential to be a gore filled paradise, much like VLOG. If the killers activities can be expanded to take place outside of cramped bedrooms, this could be one of Tom Holland’s greatest horror projects to date.
3 out of 5