I Didn’t Come Here to Die kicks off with what appears to be the aftermath of a slasher massacre worthy of Friday the 13th, complete with 70s-grindhouse-style titles. This proves to be a flash-forward; the remainder of the film unfolds the chain of events that led up to what we’ve just seen.
A group of volunteers head out to clear an area of wilderness (where, as is obligatory in any contemporary horror film, there’s no mobile phone reception) to make a summer camp for underprivileged kids. The group, led by alpha-female team leader Sophia (Robbin), includes quiet wannabe writer Danny (Cole) who wants to sleep with Sophia, bossy goody-two-shoes Miranda (Goff) who wants to be Sophia, bad boy/jock/professional arsehole Chris (Red Star), indie chick Julie (Adams), and nice but dim rich kid Steve (Vandermause). As the film’s opening should have made abundantly clear to all but the slowest-witted, it’s probably not a good idea to get too attached to any of these kids, as Bad Things are about to happen.
So far, so familiar; it could be the instantly forgettable set-up for innumerable slasher movies – instantly forgettable because it only exists as a rationale for getting the characters into the kill zone, possibly prefaced by some nudity and bonking. Fun if you like that sort of thing, of course, but rather less so if you don’t.
There’s a ‘no booze and no sex’ rule, but both are quickly breached, and that’s when the trouble starts. After a drunken Miranda tries to seduce Chris and fails, she turns to stagger off and walks into an outstretched twig, which goes straight into her eye. Sophia carts Miranda off to the hospital, leaving Danny in charge, but things rapidly go from bad to worse when one hung over volunteer has a nasty accident with a chainsaw.
Further details would go too far into the realm of the plot spoiler, but basically, I Didn’t Come Here To Die is a comedy of errors. A very, very black comedy, to be sure, but a comedy nonetheless. That’s not to say it’s all gory slapstick. Suicide and murder arise from the ever-escalating bloody mess, and there are moments of real poignancy when one character finds evidence of their beloved’s demise, but the end result is one of horrid laughter.
I Didn’t Come Here to Die’s official trailer might prejudice a lot of viewers against the film by making it look like hackneyed, badly-acted, poorly-written garbage. The scenes immediately following the flash-forward, marred as they are by clunky dialogue and wooden delivery from largely stereotypical characters, don’t help, but script and performances quickly improve. In short, I Didn’t Come Here to Die is a much better film than its trailer might indicate, and following its shaky start ultimately proves to be hugely entertaining, assuming you have a very mordant sense of humour.
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