Directed by Michael Su and written by Michael Merino, strangers awaken in individual holding cells with no memory of how they arrived. They realize if they don’t acquire enough online “likes” in a timely manner, they’ll die horribly at the hands of a sinister executioner. Starring: Costas Mandylor, Michael Madsen, Robert LaSardo, Sarah French, BJ Mezek, Devanny Pinn, Wesley Cannon, Denny Nolan, Dave Shecter, Kimberly Lynn Cole, Dee Cutrone and Charles Solomon Jr..
Going into Death Count you’ll enjoy it most if you take it as it’s meant to be, 80s slasher meets Saw meets Untraceable, it’s unapologetic entertainment with a strong taste for violence. It goes all in on the gore and bloody aspects, and choosing to have it be predominantly done by the victims themselves was a good choice to push the discomfort. A story such as this of the apathy, bloodthirst and anonymity of the general public causing them to take part in such a sadistic game with a few clicks, genuinely only becomes more realistic as time passes. While it’s definitely not intended to be a statement on that depressing reality, it does add to the experience.
While it does have a number of weaknesses, from the stereotypical set-up to the nonchalance of its characters, at the same time it does feel somewhat aware of its limitations. The sets are minimal but well decorated and it puts a focus on the effects to create its violence, they aren’t perfect but they’re enough to make you want to look away. It does also fall into every possible cop cliché line in the book but the way that it’s delivered feels like that’s actually a purposeful choice. That self-awareness is a huge key to this film, it never takes itself too seriously and lets its over the top nature take the lead. Although the story of how they came to be in this dungeon of pain is quite secondary and doesn’t make much of an impact. There was a touch more explanation and focus needed to really drive it home but it’s not a dealbreaker.
One of the aspects which ticks a classic box of horror is a touch of, typically, unintended but enjoyable comedy. Here it comes from the performances of its cast, which are themselves decent but the reactions that they have to mutilating themselves to a horrifying degree are so underexaggerated that it’s genuinely funny. The acts are ones that most people wouldn’t even be capable of committing against themselves, so the fact they do and their outward pain is fairly minimal is delightfully unusual, when often in this type of film it would be so intensely melodramatic.
Death Count is wilfully gratuitous, aware of it and embraces it to give you a torture porn slasher with a touch of thriller thrown in. It uses its budget effectively to put the focus on the effects and set decoration, not having to go too big but keeping a convincing feel. It does have its weaknesses on the story side and the minimal reaction of its characters brutally mutilating themselves is unusual and funny. However, it feels intended as ridiculous, fun entertainment for fans of slashers, horror and over the top violent movies.