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Playing like a Black Mirror episode with no editor and no real conscience, This Is Your Death, which was directed by Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito, who also co-stars, is a cinematic think piece that guilts us over our own complicity in becoming depraved, spectacle-craven reality TV addicts. It’s moralizing and sometimes even finger-wagging, shaming us for becoming bloodthirsty reality-TV drones. It is repugnant, so violent and realistic in its depiction of desperate people committing suicide that, as you become clued into the pattern of how they are shown in the film, you start shielding your face from the screen.Would you actually watch death as a reality TV show, the film asks? By the film’s grand finale suicide, which it builds up to with all the pomp and circumstance of the reality genre it aims to satirize, you’re too nauseated to watch at all.“And I hope we see more of it.” Though the film resists, you can practically hear the ominous dunh dunh dunh in your head.Rather than fire Adam, the network’s head of programming, Ilana (Famke Janssen), uses loopholes in his contract to force him and, through similar means, ace producer Sylvia (Caitlin Fitzgerald) to capitalize on the ratings gold that both the violent episode and Rogers’s post-mortem meltdown provided.
While the women are never explicitly lied to (no one tells them, “This is Prince Harry, everyone!!! Did Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas meet up at a pub last night to watch together, taking shots every time a contestant said “fairy tale” or “princess”? But for all that implausibility, there’s the suspicion that audiences today really would gravitate towards the kinds of snuff This Is Your Death sells, even if its premise for selling it is faulty.The underbelly of the internet, which hosts videos of real-life violent deaths, is more trafficked than we’d like to think.The gruesome murder-suicide on the set of the fictional Married to a Millionaire dating show, a clear spoof of The Bachelor, is played with shocking plaintiveness and matter-of-factness—the opening salvo in the film’s straightforward, almost detached cinematic approach to its onslaught of violent deaths.Each one is as bleak, as realistic, and as upsetting as the previous, but by the end so predictable that you barely have patience for one more beautifully shot suicide.