What should be a standard mystery thriller, Most Horrible Things becomes a muddled endeavour. A film that never really gets going the way you want it to, and by the time it tries, it is far too late.
When six young strangers are invited to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – an exclusive dinner party hosted by a charming and enigmatic host on the most romantic night of the year, Valentine’s Day – they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Or so they think.
Sean Sprawling and Simon Phillips look like they are having a ball as The Host and The Butler, hamming it up to their heart’s content. While the other performances are fine, theirs are what stand out here. Happily, no one has a stinker, but the cast is limited by the dialogue given and the refusal to allow their characters to have an iota of development.
Most Horrible Things has the issue of thinking it is much cleverer than it actually is. We spend so much time building up to, well, anything. When the time comes for anything thrilling to happen, we have already lost the will to enjoy it. Worse still, when we get to the crux of the story, it is over as suddenly as it began, leaving us mystified. Why build and build to these significant (or titular) “horrible” events if it is over so soon? The film has taken the mystery thriller aspect and relied far too heavily upon it, with little twists here, there and everywhere.
This is a frustrating annoyance, as we have a film that wants to have these twists, yet as soon as the story veers into one of its twists, the audience will have long guessed what would happen. Characters who look slightly “off” turn out to be way more than “off”. While the performances from the majority are fine, there are issues in telegraphing your story with the casting. With characters who look like villains eventually becoming villains, you begin to wonder what the point is. The mystery aspect, which Most Horrible Things clings to as a crux, becomes a moot point.
The idea of bouncing back between the events in the house and the police interrogations is not new, and here becomes overused just a touch. It becomes detrimental to the entire movie with any momentum the film tried to gain, promptly halted in its tracks when we return to overly earnest acting by our detectives. Then we come to the characters themselves; for the majority, they are pretty unlikeable. A decision was made that the group needed to non stop yammer on with one another to show character. But all it does is make us get to the meat of the story at a far faster rate.
There is no actual weight to anything going on, which is such a shame, as a mystery thriller like this should do well. However, hampered by the most laboured of scripts, Most Horrible Things never gets off the ground.
On UK digital platforms 14 November 2022
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