You're Killing Me
Dir. Beth Hanna & Jerren Lauder (2023)
A high school girl attends a Heaven & Hell party at a rich kid's house, hoping to get his father's assistance on admission to a posh college. When she finds evidence that links him and his friends to a teen's recent disappearance, she finds herself in the fight of her life.
CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Teen horror movies are hit or miss, but rarely are they so hit and miss as Beth Hanna and Jerren Lauder's new film You're Killing Me. Just as rare is a movie with so apt a title, which will be said aloud by pretty much every audience who watches it. Eden (McKaley Miller) is a bright high school girl who wants to get into a prestigious college and knows that Schroder (Brice Anthony Heller), the local rich kid, has a father who is on the board of the school. In an attempt to woo his favor in getting daddy to help, she attends his legendary Heaven & Hell party, where each person is either dressed like an angel or wearing all black. Through a convoluted series of events, Eden's friend Zara (Keyara Milliner) winds up passed out in a bedroom, where Schroder's friend Gooch (Wil Deusner) has taken pictures of her while being decidedly less creepy than that statement makes it seem. As Eden looks through Gooch's phone, she finds the pictures of her friend and a video that shows him involved in the final moments of a girl who has recently gone missing. The phone dies before she is able to watch the ending, and when Schroder learns that she potentially has incriminating evidence, he calls off the party and leads his friends in a campaign of terror in an attempt to get the cellphone back from Eden.
Phew. That's longwinded, yet somehow not nearly as longwinded as the film itself. Peppered amongst some exciting scenes of tension are some of the absolute dumbest decisions that I've ever seen a movie character make. Eden is supposed to be smart enough to get into one of the best schools in the country, yet she consistently puts herself and Zara in increasingly dangerous situations by refusing to be smart about literally anything. In fact, the only characters who seem to have any sense in their actions are the villains, who meticulously (and excruciatingly) try to tear down the door separating them from their captives with various household objects and, eventually, a pre-colonial axe that somehow doesn't break apart immediately when they use it to chop down the most well-constructed door in existence. All of this inevitably leads to a batshit crazy finale that comes out of left field and remains just as dumb as the rest of the film.
And let's dig into that finale a little here. I'm warning you now that there are HUGE spoilers ahead, so if you don't want to have the film ruined (at least in ways it doesn't ruin itself), don't read anymore until you watch it.
Schroder's parents are played by Dermot Mulroney (who I'm still convinced is the same person as Dylan McDermot) and a visibly-and-actually-in-real-life unhinged Anne Heche in one of her last acting roles. Knowing what would come for Heche, it's actually pretty sad seeing her jittery performance in the film that, while appropriate for the role, is disturbing to see of someone whose life would end shortly after. When the parents come into the picture, they try to buy off Eden, her friend, and her father, who has also been attacked by Schroder. When this doesn't work, they drug them (which they apparently did even before making their offer) with a combination of drugs that ABSOLUTELY DO NOT DO WHAT THE MOVIE SAYS THEY DO. More on that in a second. They then stuff Eden, her dad, and Zara into their car before murdering Gooch and stuffing him into the trunk along with Schroder's third friend who doesn't really necessitate a mention, intent on rolling the car into a river and drowning all involved.
Let me digress a bit about the film's chosen course of anesthetic: neither propofol (which is only given IV and doesn't work if taken orally and was probably used by the writers because it's a scary drug that killed Michael Jackson) or lorazepam are paralytics. While the Ativan would certainly drug someone and make them drowsy, it would not paralyze them and allow someone to keep them awake while they murder them. It would've taken, at most, five minutes of research for the writers to learn this, and there are numerous drugs that they could've used instead. Or, they could've just had Eden's character be knocked out instead of paralyzed, though that would've made the ridiculous digression explaining their actions make even less sense than it does. Either way, this attempt at creating some drama comes to naught when Eden miraculously escapes from the sinking vehicle, an absurd revelation that happens completely off-screen as if the film didn't have the budget or the stuntmen to actually show it happening.
END OF SPOILERS: you can read from here down if you haven't watched the movie yet. Nevertheless, despite the several paragraphs above that just barely describe all of the many, many shortcomings of the film (without even digging into star McKaley Miller's less-than-stellar Samara Weaving impression through most of the film), there was... actually some good in this one? It's a highly entertaining film, even if only by those looking to make themselves feel smart in comparison. There are some badass kills and the aforementioned crazy-as-hell finale that brings it all home. Even that is dumb as shit due to the obvious ramifications that I won't spoil even further, but it's wildly entertaining nonetheless. Regardless of its blemishes, You're Killing Me is a captivating reverse-home invasion thriller that is amusing if nothing else.
Who this movie is for: Teen thriller fans, Twist ending lovers, The Scarecrow (sans brain)
Bottom line: If you can turn your brain off for a bit and not think of the glaringly obvious flaws, You're Killing Me is perhaps worth a watch. It's not the dumbest movie I've ever seen, though there are parts that beg the comparison. The acting is decent if flawed at times and the action is pretty stellar in comparison to the rest of the film. If you're just looking for some mindless entertainment and don't mind logical leaps that would easily clear the Grand Canyon, maybe give this one a shot.