It worked first time around with Rodriguez/Tarantino’s Grindhouse and a few imitators that followed did it well like Hobo with a Shotgun which had the grime without going overboard. As all things must though, the trickle-down effect of a fad in the genre has led to more pale-looking imitators making their way to the bottom shelf of your local Blockbuster. The latest is I Didn’t Come Here To Die, which quite frankly looks awful with no real thought or effort put into how or why. The film looks like that VHS tape that was handed round and copied infinitely in year 10 at school. The content of that tape is something I’ll let you decide on but yeah, it looks bad.
The lame visuals scupper pretty much any chance the film had of being considered good which is a shame because it kicks in with a disturbing scene of carnage, has a modern pop song on the soundtrack (which confuses with the bad picture quality) and is performed with a straight face. The story concerns a bunch of young volunteer workers who head into the forest to clear some kind of path and build an amphitheatre. You have the shady rebel, the uptight square, the hot team leader, the nerd, the ironic nerdy girl and the all-round good guy and so on. At some point booze gets involved although its frowned upon by the hot team leader. This is where things get confused.
At first there are hints of some kind of supernatural presence in play with the girls on the crew being suddenly given the horn for no apparent reason but then this fades into the background and is replaced by a series of bad accidents involving branches and power tools and lots of blood. It’s like Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil without Tucker and Dale.
I heard someone somewhere compare this film to The Evil Dead at some point but even that film has had a re-master and Blu-ray editions so that it looks pretty good even today. The comparison isn’t really fair though because it gives I Didn’t Come Here To Die an expectation it can never possibly live up to. There are one or two rather nasty sequences like a girl with a chainsaw stuck in her face that leads inevitably to a fountain of gore and an eye gouging sequence that would have been hilarious had the character not been so damn unlikable.
What makes the film just about passable though is the cast of young actors who are all pretty good because they are taking this so seriously. Some of their dialogue is more reminiscent of the best parts of Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever rather than Raimi’s Evil Dead and as a result the film does raise a chuckle or two. I imagine this film would work much better with a ton of alcohol and some mates.
I Didn’t Come Here To Die is a solid debut from director Bradley Scott Sullivan who clearly gets what his audience want to see but it is fatally flawed by its aesthetics and story. If he ditches the worn out Grindhouse approach he could well impress us some day.