Everybody Dies in the End is a bloody good time

Everybody Dies in the End - Courtesy Terror Films
Everybody Dies in the End - Courtesy Terror Films /

In the closing minutes of Everybody Dies in the End, cult director Alfred Costella (Vinny Curran) looks right into the camera and tells would-be filmmakers, “Don’t ever compromise your vision.” Though Curran is playing a fictious director, you get a sense he means what he says. This is what works really well about this feature. Though it’s an absurd horror-comedy and mocumentary, it’s also profound in what it has to say about art and the very nature of filmmaking itself.

The movie opens with a televised interview between Alfred and TV host Willy Wilson, played by horror mainstay Bill Oberst Jr. (3 From Hell, The Devil’s Rejects, Scream Queens). This opening again underscores what this film does so well, balancing artifice and laughs with some more serious commentary about art, horror movies specifically. Willy continually presses Alfred about his films, such as Battery Acid, Kill Time, and other schlocky and gruesome fan favorites. The host accuses the director of fostering violence through his work. You get a sense that just maybe Oberst has been asked similar questions throughout his career, like why he wants to continually appear in horror movies. The two characters do have a rather serious conversation, before Alfred eventually flips out and storms off set.

Everybody Dies in the End
Everybody Dies in the End – Courtesy Terror Films /

From the get-go, you realize that Alfred is erratic and short-tempered. A skeleton documentary crew, led by filmmaker Calvin, played by writer/co-director Ian Tripp, decides to record the process of Alfred’s final bloody masterpiece. For about half the runtime, the audience is treated to the director’s whacky and insane creative process. There’s even a point where Alfred’s sycophantic assistant, Grant (Brendan Cahalan), tells Calvin that the director suffers from “pre-shooting fatigue.” These sort of breakdowns and pauses in the action happen quite frequently. Alfred has one short fuse alright.

Meanwhile, when the cameras finally roll, Alfred berates the actors, especially the young and innocent Allison (Iliyana Apostolova). He constantly screams in her face and squirts blood at her several times, until she nearly quits. The performances are all strong, but it’s really Curran that carries this film. He’s a good comedic performer, but he also knows when to hit the serious notes, which transforms this film beyond just a horror-comedy. His character is like an anarchistic jester who gets off on chaos, while every now and then dropping some serious truths about art.

The film’s last act ventures into some real philosophical musings. When one of the actors actually cuts himself on set, and when Calvin uploads it and garners millions of views, Alfred raises a point that real pain and savagery garner clicks and eyeballs. Without spoiling anything, let’s just say that the last 20 minutes take this idea much, much further, arriving at a startling conclusion.

Like the stellar One Cut of the Dead, Everybody Dies in the End is very much a movie about filmmaking, including all of the pains and all of the joys. It’s also a reminder that filmmaking is a collective process and those involved, cast and crew alike, are all part of the same body, as Alfred puts it in one of this sudden little truth nuggets. I suspect anyone with a creative streak will enjoy this movie. It’s a rip-roaring romp with something to say about the artistic process.

Everybody Dies in the End arrives on VOD worldwide on September 22.

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