Our Deadly Vows (2023)

Our Deadly Vows (2023) HORROR MOVIE REVIEW .jpg

Our Deadly Vows (2023)

Grace and Chance Charles celebrate their one-year anniversary with friends before bidding them farewell…perhaps forever. (IMDB)

Written and Directed by Chris Chalk

A Horror Movie Review by Mark Walker

***mild spoilers ahead***

Our Deadly Vows is another recent viewing that left me a bit on the fence about the finished product. The premise is familiar but has a great set-up as Grace (K. D. Chalk) and Chance (Chris Chalk) celebrate their 1 year anniversary amongst friends while a mystery assailant picks them off one by one.

Laced with elements of You’re Next, the latest season of YOU, and, to a certain extent, movies like Ready or Not the film plays with the idea of an enemy who may or may not be hunting from within. However, the ‘presentation’ let it down a little, and the end product, for me, was a little disjointed.

The film sets itself up really well, introducing Grace and Chance as they head to the party, each telling the other they would do anything for them – a hint of what’s to come, perhaps? They come across as decent people, the heart of the movie, the exact opposite of the collection of shits they are heading towards.

When they arrive, we get an introduction to their friends; basically, a mishmash of assholes who really shouldn’t be friends! Considering all the backstabbing, sniping, affairs, and generally shitty behaviour towards each other, it’s a miracle they haven’t killed each other off before now. Byron Bronson’s Douglas is a wonderful example of this and an utterly despicable character. I am sure Byron is a great guy in real life, but in ODV, he plays Douglas so well you desperately want to see the character dead. And the others aren’t much better, to be honest, so the killing can’t start soon enough! 

While the introduction of the characters works really well, setting the scene and the dynamic, we don’t see any action until halfway through the film, although people do start dropping like flies fairly quickly after that. 

And that is where I started to struggle a little.

While a mystery figure killing characters off and leaving little presents behind, complete with snarky words of wisdom, is a fun set-up for a murder mystery, I was distracted by the odd behaviour of the people in the house.

When one of them loses their EpiPen during anaphylaxis, there is no panic or concern, and the group almost shrugs it off. When she dies, it falls flat; it’s like this sort of thing happens every day. Holed up in the basement, hiding from the killer, they just take it. No panic, no screaming, no terror, it’s all a bit, ‘so what?’ 

Throughout the film, there are moments when bad things happen, but they are seemingly glossed over in the direction/editing and that leads to confusion for the viewer. I am not sure whether this is deliberate to create more mystery, but it felt like an error in many places, leaving me confused and unconvinced by character choices and actions. In a few places, it was almost like there had been some heavy-handed editing that led to incomplete scenes. When Grace sees Chance hanging in the garden, she runs out to him, but when she arrives, his body is gone. But no one addresses this issue until much later on in the film and seemingly just in passing.  

This isn’t enough to ruin the film, but it had me questioning it more than usual, and that took me out of the movie a little. That’s just me, though and perhaps others will view it through a different lens.

The cast is great, and everyone puts in a good performance; I suspect it was a lot of fun playing some of these assholes. As I mentioned, the complicated dynamic between all the friends is well-developed and draws you in as you can’t believe how shitty some of these people are. It’s not entirely realistic, but it is totally believable in the world created by Chalk, and you need larger-than-life characters in a movie like this. If you aren’t able to like anyone or develop empathy for them, you sure as hell need to hate them enough to see them die! And some of these characters feel like they deserve it! The only downside to this is a general lack of empathy for any of the characters. I didn’t find myself rooting for anyone in particular and didn’t feel it when one of them died.

I also felt there could have been a little more development for a couple of characters, so the ending was more solid – a satisfying find at the end of a trail of plot breadcrumbs. You have a good idea where the story is going, if not necessarily why, but it didn’t feel well enough set up for me, and while the motivations were clear, the set-up was just a little lacking; if there were any hints foreshadowing the eventual outcome, I missed them.

But, as ever, these are just my thoughts from the perspective of viewing the film through a slightly more critical eye than if I was sitting down on a Friday evening to watch a movie.

If the premise interests you and you like this sort of mystery, at just over 80 minutes, you can’t go too wrong. ODV has a great set-up and characters but I felt a little disjointed in the second half with some confusing moments that had me scratching my head.

Our Deadly Vows was out in selected theatres on 7th July and will be available on-demand and digitally everywhere from 1st August.

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