After being thrust into the public eye in 2007 with Michael Bay’s “Transformers”, Megan Fox quickly found herself known more for her sudden sex-symbol status than the movies she was making. After two abysmal “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” films, the Tennessee-born actress took a few years off, doing a little television but nothing on the big screen. She returned in 2019 and has since appeared in a wild variety of mostly straight-to-VOD movies. She also has several interesting projects on the way.
Fox’s latest “Till Death” is a genre mashup that can best be described as a psychological action survival horror thriller. It’s directed by S.K. Dale from a script penned by Jamie Cairney. They hand Fox a character who requires a two-sided performance, one that’s full of quiet brittle emotion and the other which is much grittier and physically demanding. The movie starts as an ugly marriage drama but ends in a far more violent and blood-splattered place.
Fox plays Emma, the wife of prominent New York City attorney Mark Webster (Eoin Macken). We first meet her as she’s ending an extramarital affair with one of her husband’s colleagues. We learn that her relationship with Mark has soured in large part due to his controlling and emotionally abusive behavior. There isn’t much nuance to Mark. He’s a slug from the start, frequently pointing out how she doesn’t meet his expectations and constantly reminding her of how she “used to be”. When she shows up at his office in a black dress rather than his favorite red one, he takes her back home to change before going out to dinner.
After a rather uncomfortable meal, Mark surprises Emma with a getaway to a remote lake house to celebrate their 11-year anniversary. He goes all out – candles, rose petals, and a pledge to be a better husband. Following an evening of champagne and romance, Emma wakes up to an alarming discovery. She finds herself in bed handcuffed to Mark’s blood-soaked corpse. I won’t go into the how and why, but from there a good chunk of the movie is Emma dragging her dead husband‘s body around the house trying to break free from him (the metaphor is pretty obvious). This whole part is a little grisly, at times unexpectedly clever, even darkly funny on occasion.
But then we get another twist when two brothers, one violently linked to Emma’s past, show up at the lake house anxious to get their hands on a bag of diamonds stashed inside. Up to this point the movie had been on shaky yet entertaining ground. But here is where it falls apart, not in an unbearably bad way. But any hint of plausibility pretty much vanishes as the violent grudge-bearing Bobby Ray (Callen Mulvey) and his timid younger brother (Jack Roth) search for Emma in and around the snowy property. It plays out as a series of near-miss encounters, some just too silly and convenient to buy.
It all leads to a predictable action showdown that’s no more easier to believe. Through it all Fox’s performance rarely gets above room temperature. It’s not that she’s bad. In fact the grit she brings to certain scenes is what makes them work. But there are scenes where her character needs more than the small range of emotion she brings. It all equals a flawed movie that still manages to be well-paced, digestible, hit-and-run entertainment. But you can also see hints of a better thriller that we unfortunately didn’t get. “Till Death” opens July 2nd.