From director Alexander Henderson who also wrote the story with Mary Ahlman, comes ‘Becoming Death’. A slow burn of a horror that is immensely satisfying because you’re never quite sure what will happen next.
It begins straight-forward enough, seemingly heading down a supernatural route, as a young woman named Francine (Jennifer Buckley) gets some good news via a phone call. She is so caught up in the call, she fails to notice a woman watching her from afar. That is until the woman (Merlynda Sol) confronts her as Francine nears her car. She’s covered in blood but seems to be quite calm asking Francine why she is so happy. Fearful, Francine answers before getting into her car. It’s here the blood woman switches, screaming how much she hates Francine and even chasing after her as she drives away.
What a strong start this is. Yet, it’s probably the least strange thing that will happen to Francine over the movie’s runtime.
As it goes on, and we see that Francine suffers from mental health issues, much of which stems from her religious and overbearing mother, Audrey (Mandy May Cheetham). The good news she got was an interview that could see her accepted into an Ivy League school master’s program. An escape from her life but bringing with it a huge amount of pressure.
That bit at the start? It will tie in. Even if following along isn’t always the easiest thing to do. It is fascinating though. The story, while eccentric, is gripping and the way in which it takes its time is genuinely unnerving. Though, it’s easy to see that some will be put off by the slow pacing. In particular, conversational moments.
Alexander Henderson has proven himself to be a talent when it comes to shorts but he has outdone himself with this feature length movie. He delivers a thought-provoking, chilling, sometimes amusing and emotive horror movie.
You’ll feel sorry for Francine and Jennifer Buckley plays her wonderfully. There’s a bit of Carrie White about her, which makes sense, as her mother, Audrey is a little Margret White too. Not quite as over the top but still with this underlying sinisterness that is based on religious dogma and her own mental health problems. Mandy May Cheetham is wonderful in this role, she doesn’t overdo it and there’s just enough mystery left surrounding her to allow your imagination to fill in some blanks. Such as the situation surrounding Francine’s father and Audrey’s husband.
In fact, all the cast do wonderfully. Really taking the roles to heart and delivering performances that make the characters very convincing. Shout out to Reid Schmidt and Abigail Hunt. The former playing the interviewer/professor of the program and the latter playing his wife. Together, whether intentionally or not, delivered one of the movie’s funniest moments.
Will it all make sense come the end? Mostly, but it should be noted this is not your conventional horror. There is no ‘villain’ so to speak and the events that occur have a nightmarish quality to them. Just what is real is up to you to determine. A slow-burn but one well worth experiencing. Which you can because it’s free to watch on YouTube.
Becoming Death (2022)
The Final Score - 7.5/10