Death and Beautiful (2021)
Directed by: David Verbeek
Written by: David Verbeek, Hugh Travers
With: Anna Marchenko, Aviis Zhong, Gijs Blom, Philip Juan, Yen Tsao
MORT & D BEAU (2021)
Directed by David Verbeek
An original thrill
Five rich in their twenties find themselves helpless without any responsibility and their parents’ inflated wallets burn a hole in their pocket. With nothing better to do, the only way to get a kick out of it is to take turns having an experience they can all enjoy. For social media-obsessed Anastasia, a trip to nature with a guide turns sour when an encounter with a shaman Arovi wakes them up with a set of fangs and new life. How will they manage their new features?
DEATH AND BEAUTIFUL exposes her set of wealthy child characters to moral and ethical dilemmas in this dramatic thriller as they come to terms with their transformation.
Opulence oozes from the screen from the first moment we are introduced to each of the five main characters with one of the five, Bin-Ray, making an unexpected entry that somehow represents who they are – rich in nothing. better to do. It’s hard to know and love these characters because snobbery is off the charts. The richest of all, Mason Van Der Bilt, seems to be all contemplative and humble when he reveals that he studies Buddhism, but his Asian friends seem skeptical about this because I guess it goes against his style. of frivolous life. Although they are friends, it is clear that neither of them fully trust the other and the one thing they care more about than themselves is the hard money. . However, Anastasia’s journey into the wilderness and their unexpected encounter with a shaman causes them to rely on each other more than they would like as they seek refuge in Alex’s parents’ unfinished hotel. . Each featuring a pair of fangs, so obvious they can’t even hide them when they open their mouths, the five struggle to figure out what that can mean to them and their future.
As we follow the set of characters, their facades melt away and their true nature emerges. Some deal with it better than others, with each person reacting differently to what they now see in the mirror (ironically, they can still be seen in the mirror!). Anastasia, for example, seems quite spoiled at first, but she and Bin-Ray turn out to be two of the best of the bunch. Anastasia, in particular, brings a lot of the comedic element with her character obsessed with social media but also very embarrassed and lonely, finding solace in her followers. Bin-Ray’s humor is produced with the childish way he discovers himself and the abilities he may or may not have.
DEATH AND BEAUTIFUL serves to expose human nature and how we respond when threatened or faced with trauma. The way this is executed is a bit hit and miss, some of the performances feeling rather stilted. It doesn’t help when the group of characters on the screen is difficult to understand.
Stylistically, DEATH AND BEAUTIFUL is a visual treat. Lavish, futuristic settings and technology further fuel the fact that these friends live in a world different from the rest. It’s about fast cars and a lot of money, living the high life. Without a doubt, the Five are so out of touch with reality that they think they are above everything. The only thing that could knock them off their mighty pedestals is the fact that they’ve been transformed. But weren’t they societal vampires anyway, sucking up working class life to fuel their extravagant lifestyles, before getting their fangs?
The nighttime scenes ooze an underlying glow, obscured by the vivid neon colors and bustling city life. You could say it’s an analogy for some of the characters themselves; flash on the outside but hollow on the inside.
Ultimately, DEATH AND BEAUTIFUL promises a lot more than it offers as the tense storyline weaves its way to its disappointing climax with characters that you feel as indifferent to you as when you take aim at them from the opening scene. Despite using a sleek aesthetic, it fails to engage and entertain with a lack of substance.