Everybody Dies by The End (2022)
Written by Ian Tripp
A documentary crew follows cult classic horror director, Alfred Costella, as he makes his final film – An all practical masterpiece…with a dark twist. (IMDB)
Alfred Costella (Vinny Curran) is a director of schlocky B-movies with glorious titles, such as ‘Battery Acid’ who is planning a comeback after being out of favour for a decade. A hit-piece interview questioning the impact of (his) violent films on society provoked a spirited outburst from Costella on TV which led to his fall from grace.
But he is now ready to get back on the (zombie) horse and crack out the pig’s blood with a barnstorming return to celluloid exploitation. To make even more of an impact he has hired documentary makers Calvin (Ian Tripp) and Mark (Joshua Wyble) to produce a behinds the scenes account as he makes filmic history.
Things immediately take a turn for the odd as Calvin and Mark turn up on set to find a very highly strung Costello, an overly attentive (creepy) assistant, Grant (Brendan Calahan) and a film crew all dressed in identical red Hawaiian shirts.
Costello’s plans for a triumphant re-emergence and celluloid immortality depend on pulling off the greatest snuff movie ever made!
Everybody Dies by the End sets out its stall very early and very obviously, the title being the most obvious spoiler! This is the strength of a film like this and there is nothing to be gained by hiding the plot from the audience for any length of time. The fun of EDBTE is to be found in screaming at the oblivious Calvin and Mark in the hope that they will somehow come to their senses and do a runner from the film set rather than become unwitting extras in this history-making horror epic.
The concept of EDBTE immediately reminded me of CREEP (2014) another film centred around a documentary maker being hired by a decidedly odd client who may have more in store for his crew than documentary-making. Creep, however, takes a slightly more serious approach while EDBTE has a slightly more tongue-in-cheek feel with it’s larger than life, cartoonish characters. This is probably its saving grace as we aren’t supposed to take it too seriously; this is more When the Screaming Starts (2021) than Man Bites Dog (1992).
Because of this, EDBTE can get away with its mildly flimsy plot which does little to explain what is going on and why. There is some toying with themes around the immortality of being committed to film, but not much to understand the motivations of the numerous crew members who are willing to sacrifice themselves for Costello’s vision.
Costello’s mysterious “red room” teases secrets that might explain what is going on and, when one of the actors threatens to leave, a trip to the red room changes them and they chose to stay. However, even when the audience gets to see inside the room, there are some hints at something larger going on, but nothing concrete and we are left questioning things more than understanding them. This may well have been deliberate, it’s found footage after all, and we don’t necessarily expect explanations for everything, but EDBTE felt like a film that would have benefitted from a bit more clarity around motivation.
There is a flash of backstory for Clavin to explain his fascination with death and the macabre, but otherwise, we have a lot of characters just hanging around waiting to die and I wanted to learn a little more about the ‘cult’ that they had formed. By the time the second onscreen death is filmed, there can be no question whatsoever that something very bad is happening, so I needed more to understand why everyone was willing to stay.
But maybe I am over-thinking it?
Having said all that, it is still a fun film to watch. Tripp and Schafer have put together a B-movie about snuff B-movies (which scarily suggests the existing of snuff A-movies….) and done a great job on a limited budget. Vinny Curren’s turn as Costello is wonderful, imbued with a spirit and energy that is childlike but also a little disconcerting; he’s someone who can flip from fun-loving buddy to nut-job with the snap of a clapper Board. Chalan is also suitably creepy as assistant Grant, at one moment fawning and accommodating and the next psychopathically protecting his master, Alfred.
As long as you don’t ask too many questions of the plotting and just go with it, there is a lot to enjoy.
Everybody Dies by The End was a fun, if flawed, comedy horror with some great performances and a fun script. For me, there wasn’t enough development of many of the characters, the motivations behind Costello and his crew which I felt could have been fleshed out a little more but, ultimately, that didn’t detract from what is a decent, solidly made, low-budget horror. Indeed, maybe that is a sign of a job well done by Tripp and Schafer who have left me wanting more?