Among much overdone glad handing and a potluck; a bucolic town welcomes their new pastor (who goes by the handle of Dan Bennett) and his family with seemingly open arms. See how I said “seemingly” back there…I mean, I hope you did or your reading comprehension is right shit…well, this being a fright flick and all; you can bet demons to diamonds that this small town harbors a deep, dark secret. And what a secret it is too, as after a few hints here and there, the supernatural shit hits the fearful fan after Dan investigates a call from a frantic woman proclaiming that “evil” has overtaken her family which sets of a cascading effect of strange encounters with the local yokels that reveal a creepy cult once called the town home…and may still.
Firstly, Before I Die is a well made fright flick that belies it’s small budget; it’s nicely shot, artistic, and loaded with a great sense of foreboding atmosphere. The story, all clandestine meetings, evil eyed glances, and unraveling mystery is fun and engaging, and fans of ’70’s Satanic shockers or survival horror games such as Alan Wake will find this right up their arcane alley. Hell, even the acting is mostly decent, which can be a dicey aspect in some independent features (though usually never is a deterrent to my enjoyment).
On the “no bueno” side of the coin; at nearly two hours this flick gets a full blown case of the “drag ass” in some spots. I don’t know what the deal is with some folks in the horror biz; but they seem to have forgotten that sweet spot which makes for an absolutely golden fright flick experience, namely the 80 to 90 minute runtime. When the fat is cut, the scares come quicker, and we get to what we paid for (and tension can be built effectively no matter the length of a film). Also those expecting supernatural spills and chills like the cover art would lead you to believe will find themselves high and dry (though that is a problem with the marketing rather than the actual film), and there’s a real deficit of the ol’ red sauce as well.
Before I Die is a welcome semi-throwback to the evil cult flicks of yore, and even with the bloated length and lack of any real horror trappings, it still manages to entertain. I say give it a go if you’re looking for a break from the non-stop found footage and slasher pictures that barrage our beloved horror biz.