TO YOUR LAST DEATH movie poster | ©2020 Quiver Distribution

TO YOUR LAST DEATH movie poster | ©2020 Quiver Distribution

Rating: Not Rated
Stars (voices): Morena Baccarin, William Shatner, Dani Lennon, Bill Moseley, Ray Wise, Mark Whitten, Benjamin Siemon, Florence Hartigan, Damien C. Haas
Writers: Tanya Klein & Jim Cirile
Director: Jason Axinn
Distributor: Quiver Distribution
Release Date: October 6, 2020

TO YOUR LAST DEATH bills itself as “the first-ever U.S.-made 2D animated horror movie.” Whether or not this is accurate, it’s an intriguing specimen. Imagine TALES FROM THE CRYPT meets TWILIGHT ZONE meets SAW meets Grand Guignol Greek tragedy played out as modern family psychodrama, played out in limited animation, and (if your head can stop spinning after this description) you’ll have some notion of what TO YOUR LAST DEATH is like.

After a prologue, we’ve got narrator William Shatner intoning, “The vast void between stars …” as we see a neuron-like nebula. He sets the scene. An extraterrestrial game is going on, but first, we’re in present-day Los Angeles.

Miriam DeKalb (voiced by Dani Lennon), daughter of billionaire weapons designer Cyrus DeKalb (voiced by Ray Wise, is in the hospital. She’s begging the staff to believe her: “He killed them all!”

Three days earlier, we see Miriam under calmer circumstances. She works at a non-profit pacifist organization, where her supportive boyfriend Walt (voiced by Mark Whitten) brings her flowers. Then Miriam receives a call from Cyrus. Although she detests him – he abused her and her siblings and choked their mother – Miriam agrees to the summons.

At DeKalb’s gigantic headquarters, Miriam shares a not-very-warm reunion with older brother Collin (voiced by Benjamin Siemon) and younger sister Kelsy (voiced by Florence Hartigan), and a somewhat friendlier greeting with younger brother Ethan (voiced by Damien C. Haas). Although they don’t have much in common, they are united in their loathing of their father.

Locked in by Cyrus’s security guards (one of whom is voiced by Bill Moseley), the younger DeKalbs are taken upstairs to see their father, who berates each of them in turn, then announces he’s dying of a brain tumor. What he wants to do in the time he has left – is to kill his disappointing offspring.

Miriam manages to escape, only to wind up in the hospital. Here, she’s visited by the Gamemaster (voiced by Morena Baccarin). The Gamemaster runs an interstellar gambling establishment – ah, so that’s what the nebula is all about – which wagers on the outcome of certain human conflicts. Miriam will be given the opportunity to go back in time and save her siblings, but she must be “amusing,” and the Gamemaster has both the means and the right (within the game) to reset whatever she wants.

Miriam is given some ability to rewind time herself, then plunked back to DeKalb headquarters, where she tries to convince the others that they’re all in great danger. When that doesn’t work, Miriam does her best to rescue everyone.

The scenes with the extraterrestrial gamblers play a bit like a story meeting, with characters being brought back and having attitudes changed because they think it plays better. Probably not coincidentally, they look a little like STAR TREK aliens.

The animation combines gritty-looking comic book character art with the kind of animation where a group of characters will slide down a hallway in a unified block. The gore quotient is enormous. The contrast between style and content is trippy – anybody remember Saturday morning cartoons that played out this way? No? Now your nightmares may do so.

The voice talent is all fine. It adds a little extra zip that Wise and Baccarin’s characters resemble the performers. Rene G. Boscio’s ominous score adds a great deal to the mood.

Those who are enjoying the film should note there are both mid-credits and post-credits scenes.

TO YOUR LAST DEATH in engaging as a genre story. The animation is not spectacular, but the combination of all of its factors make it an oddity worth watching.

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