Til Death Do Us Part 2023 Movie Review
For those who haven’t been tipped off by its devilishly cool poster, some readers may see the title of Emmy Award winner Timothy Woodward Jr.’s new movie “Til Death Do Us Part” and immediately have their heads filled with images of love-struck soulmates and wedding day bliss. Beautiful brides, heartfelt vows, overflowing joy. Well, for the sake of anyone who might think that’s what they’re signing up for here, let me emphatically say that is not this movie.
It doesn’t take long to figure out that Woodward Jr. has something much different in mind for his movie. Something crazy, something violent, and something that is perhaps a little too ambitious. And that’s pretty much “Til Death Do Is Part” in a nutshell. It’s a movie that surprised me with its big aim even though it doesn’t quite hit its target.
Co-written by Chad Law and Shane Dax Taylor, this peculiar John Wick meets Kill Bill thriller mixes straight action with black comedy while sprinkling in a dash of home invasion horror. The framework is actually quite clever with the story building itself around one key reveal and playing it out across two different timelines. The problem is with the execution. Simply put, too much of what it’s trying to do simply doesn’t mesh. More on that in a second.
Woodward Jr. opens his movie in a way that makes you think you’ve stepped into a sappy romcom. The Best Man (Cam Gigandet) sits in a church pew working on his best man speech, the Groom (Ser’Darius Blain) slides into his stylish tuxedo, and the Bride (Natalie Burn) puts on her finishing touches all while the whimsical music builds up to what’s sure to be a storybook crescendo, right?
Well, not exactly. Just as she’s about to walk down the aisle the Bride gets cold feet. She leaves the church, hops in her car, and heads to a remote house that (I think) belongs to her family. The jilted Groom doesn’t take kindly to being left at the alter but still hopes that they can work things out. So he sends his Best Man and six groomsmen to see if she’s at the house and keep her there until he arrives.
Obviously questions abound. Why did she leave? What changed her mind? What is she running from? There’s actually more to it than just another runaway bride story. The road to answers begins when we’re suddenly transported to Puerto Rico where the Bride and Groom are enjoying their honeymoon. They look to be having the time of their lives. But later some pretty clear tension surfaces. Yet another layer is added after the Bride and Groom meet and hit it off with a Husband (Jason Patric) and Wife (Nicole Arlyn) who are in Puerto Rico to celebrate their 20th anniversary.
Back on their wedding day the Bride’s showdown with the groomsmen quickly turns violent and it becomes pretty obvious that these people aren’t quite who we thought they were. There’s a whiff of a cool idea especially once the bloody game of cat and mouse kicks into gear. The B movie schlock vibes are actually kind of endearing. Also, Burn makes for a compelling protagonist even if she isn’t given much that shows her range. And Patric almost single-handedly saves the film with a killer second-half monologue that brings most everything into focus.
But over time the flaws begin to add up. The movie’s bread-and-butter is supposed to be the Bride one-by-one offing her well-tailored invaders with gruesome blood-soaked precision. The problem is the action is never as edgy as it wants to be. And the fact that the groomsmen are thinly sketched dullards doesn’t help. Then you have the Best Man, easily one of the most annoying characters of the year. Gigandet seems stuck in one gear, overacting within an inch of his life (think Chris Hemsworth in “Bad Times at the El Royale” but minus the coolness and restraint). It’s a character who grows harder and harder to endure.
“Til Death Do Us Part” deserves points for subverting expectations. It certainly turns out to be something much different than it first teases. Natalie Burn eviscerating her dumbbell foes while still decked in her elegant white wedding gown can be a fun and funny sight. And Jason Patric is a hoot especially when driving what is easily the film’s best scene (you’ll know it when you see it). But those things can’t cover or cure the movie’s nagging issues. And being 20 minutes too long only makes those issues stand out even more. “Til Death Do Is Part” hits theaters August 4th.