You know what’s really scary? Dehydration. Sometimes we forget to drink enough water, even with the plethora of ads from Poland Spring and Dasani. Perhaps it’s their marketing. Enter Liquid Death Mountain Water. Maybe you’ve seen one of their colorful ads on social media and thought it was a Funny or Die sketch, but it’s a product as serious as the cause it is behind. Tall boy cans of spring water advertised like beer at a death metal concert, and a no holds barred marketing campaign that’ll use any publicity thrown its way. Couple that with the gonzo art and animation from Mr. Pickles co-creator, Will Carsola, and you have the attention of the general public. After releasing clothes, plushies, and even an album, it’s no surprise that Liquid Death would dive into the world of film. And sure enough, Carsola and Liquid Death have done just that with Dead till Death. So how does one make a film set around canned water?
Tom, played by Sean Conway, is having a rough day. His girlfriend has broken up with him over text while he’s on the road with five friends for a retreat in the woods. This, and a few other inconveniences make him a buzzkill in the eyes of his more confident and abrasive friend, Brad, played by Buddy Caine. Nothing out of the ordinary as the group of six stop at that one lone gas station for miles, and encounter a creepy clerk, played by Terence Gleason. Rather than pull a Crazy Ralph and spout “you’re all doomed,” the clerk highly recommends they stock up on water. He points them to the cooler stocked with twelve-packs of Liquid Death. With some quick coaxing, Brad buys their entire stock. The group reaches their destination and promptly sets up camp. Brad obnoxiously opens up all of the packs of Liquid Death. They make themselves at home, ditching things at their will and adding to the already littered ecosystem. But while no one is looking, the cans come to life and get loose in the woods with one thing on their minds: kill these litter bugs!
So again, how does one make Liquid Death into a movie? Well, mix one-part Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and one-part Evil Dead, with a healthy coating of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes to seal the deal. Then cut out any of the fat, and deliver 45 minutes of this premise played straight, where killer aluminum cans are rolling around like Krites, all in the name of environmental conservation. Sometimes, you don’t need to be subtle to get a message across.
On the technical side, Dead till Death boasts a minimal but classic 80’s horror feel curtesy of cinematographer, David Kruta. We’ve got thick fog wafting through the moonlight, the shadows of the trees, and the amber glow of the campfire. Couple that with some daylight shots that highlight the natural beauty of the forest, juxtaposed with the image of a plastic bottle that clearly shouldn’t be there. Credit also needs to be given to composer, Ryan McTear’s unnatural ambient score, created through a custom instrument he invented himself. There’s a short video of him with it on Liquid Death’s YouTube channel that’s worth checking out.
On the casting side, the film is mainly working in the horror tradition of unknown actors playing tropes: we have a mopey everyman, a dude-bro, the dude-bro’s girlfriend, the fat guy, the blonde, and the alternative one. They all work conventions, and they’re given enough screen time to have one endearing laugh without overstaying their welcome. That doesn’t mean they’re out, not to spoil anything, but they’re given the chance to break convention.
Dead till Death is short, sweet, and definitely to the point. The point that they’ve made already with their collection of well-produced ads, but also still full steam on finding creative ways to deliver it. At half the length of an average horror film, there’s no room for error, and what could have been a series of sketches is put together cohesively. The only really nitpick I have is that the death scenes, pun intended, are pretty watered down. Maybe I dove a little too deep into Carsola’s art, but I feel he could have benefitted from tapping into that gore factor that earned him cult status. I can just imagine a scene where a Liquid Death can lodges into a character’s eye socket, and the tab is pulled, releasing a river of blood. That short coming aside, Dead till Death proves that the team knows their audience and they will remain full of surprises. The film releases on streaming in early August. Until then stay hydrated and #deathtoplastic.
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