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It’s that time of the year again for a disappointing thriller featuring a whole bunch of Black people of which one is really crazy. Which is what you get in Til Death Do Us Part.
Director: Chris Stokes
All Madison (Annie Ilonzeh) has wanted is a child. So, when her husband Michael (Stephen Bishop) asked her to quit her job and become a full-time wife, she figured a child would be the trade-off. However, he doesn’t want a child right now. In fact, he takes injections to make sure it doesn’t happen and doesn’t tell Madison. Something which makes her very upset and him mad too because she was snooping through his stuff.
However, bad turns to worse when he starts getting violent with her. From then on, their perfect relationship is never the same for with him stripping her of her autonomy, she is under the impression she is stuck. That is, until her best friend Chelsea (Robinne Lee) provides her an out. Not a necessarily flawless one, but an out nonetheless.
Problem is, this out isn’t far enough from Michael to truly get away. Thus leading to him reminding her that they got married “til death do us part.”
I’m not sure what the first handful of songs were but they, for a moment, gave me hope. They set a good tone, got me vibing with what Stokes was shooting and made me think perhaps this wouldn’t be the token Black thriller of the year. The one that, unless you got people talking in the audience or a best friend who does so, it is almost excruciating to watch.
Sadly, It’s That Movie
Since No Good Deed, maybe earlier, September to early October has had at least 1 thriller, featuring recognizable Black actors, but rarely those who have broken out, in cheesy thrillers. The kind where, more often than not, this guy is crazy for reasons you don’t fully understand, or the woman is, again, for reasons not that developed. Leading to usually the same plot over and over.
It begins with the crazy person seeming so nice, so charming, like the perfect person for whatever the lead needs in their life. However, something the lead says or does ends up triggering something. We are told flatly what it could be, but it isn’t built upon so you’re just left with the idea that this person is crazy because they are crazy. Maybe, if you’re lucky, their insanity, we’re told, stems from abuse.
But, thus far, there hasn’t been any real remix to the usual trajectory of a seemingly nice person going crazy, lead sort of gets away, if not goes into hiding, crazy person finds them, and our lead kills them in the end. Usually with a gun.
Something Just Doesn’t Seem Right Here
There are quite a few things in Til Death Do Us Part which really makes it seem to be one of the worst of the almost annual Black September/ October thrillers. One is the obsession it puts in Madison with the toilet seat being up. It is shown as something which bothers her and as a sign maybe Michael is in the house. With the right audience, it damn near will probably seem like a joke.
Following that, we have certain things which raise an eyebrow. One thing being, the baby that Madison has, are we looking at a lifelike doll or a real baby? Maybe it is just me but it seems the angles were all wrong for that and after a certain point, Stokes and his team said: “Screw It!”
The last thing I’m going to mention, because I could really pick this apart like it was hand sewn, is the money issue. Major spoiler: Madison fakes her death to get away from Michael. Chelsea is her beneficiary for her life insurance so she gets the money. Now, apparently, there is enough money for Madison to either buy or rent a house and then get a simple, run of the mill, waitress job. If that was the only time we saw Chelsea give Madison money, I could have accepted that. However, with her consistently giving Madison stacks of cash, I was left wondering where the hell all that money was coming from?
After all, Chelsea was presented as a nurse just like Madison. So unless she has more underhanded ongoings besides knowing how to fake a death, at least good enough to trick an insurance company, I’m confused where all this cash is coming from.
On The Fence
Ilonzeh as a Love Interest
I don’t know if I just am a sucker for love or my standards were low for this, but I got to say I thought Ilonzeh made a lovely love interest for both Michael and Taye Diggs’ character Alex. Maybe because she has that generic college sweetheart look. I’m tempted to say that maybe it was her acting but the cute awkward moments she has, like with Taye Diggs, sort of dance upon the border of being cringey.
We began September with the skip it label and end with it. Seems almost poetic. But, jokes aside, I’m really not sure who thinks this overdone formula, repeated year to year, still works. Am I not looking at enough box office receipts to notice these are actually money makers? Could it be, between Netflix and home video, these are underground hits? I have to be missing something, right?
Otherwise, why would Til Death Do Us Part exist? I like to jokingly say bad movies similar to this belong on Lifetime but it doesn’t even have that certain campy element, outside the toilet seat thing, to make it a Lifetime movie. It is one of those films which you know the actors will say “Support it to see more Black films!” Yet, it reminds you the reason the majority of accessible Black films are trash, accessible meaning not indie and requiring a trip to your local city, is because we support films like Til Death Do Us Part.
So please, save your money, save your bandwidth, and just don’t acknowledge this film exists. I certainly won’t by Tuesday.