Del reviews ‘Most Likely to Die’

Image courtesy of Marvista Entertainment.

“Most Likely to Die” Starring Chad Addison, Jake Busey, Tess Christiansen, Heather Morris, Perez Hilton. Directed by Anthony DiBlasi. 90 minutes. Unrated.

Del’s take

Hollywood has exhausted its trove of mask themes for slashers these days.

Leatherface, Michael Myers, Jason Voorheis, Ghostface – they all have distinctive face coverings to make them scarier than what they really are – close-to-middle-age white dudes with mommy issues. A close-to-middle-age white dude is scary only when he shows up as your Tindr date, so if you’re John Carpenter or Tobe Hooper, you put your killer in a mask.

Hoping to join that cadre of baddies is The Graduate of “Most Likely to Die,” a room-temperature horror flick that never receives its diploma. Our Graduate wears an overbaked pot roast of a mask, which bears no resemblance to the conflict or subtext. To complete his ensemble he’s wrapped in a graduation gown, with a cap so sharp and deadly that if it were a human being, it could trade barbs with Bill Maher.

Too bad the script and acting aren’t equally cutting edge. The only thing they’re cutting is the cheese because this is one stinker of a scary movie. Don’t waste your time.

“Most Likely” features an ensemble cast starring Gaby (Heather Morris), a world poker wannabe who attends a reunion of her old high school clique at buddy Ray’s (Jason Tobias) remote hillside pad. She’s joined by eight others as they await their host, who’s mysteriously AWOL.

It takes no time for this Band of Mother******s to fall back into its high school pecking order, led by Brad (Ryan Doom), a recovering narcissist TV star who knocked up Gaby and dumped her when they were seniors (yet he still secretly pines for her, despite the presence of his supermodel shack job Bella – Tatum Miranda). But Gaby is having none of it. She’s already “lost big” to Brad once and she’s not going to do it again. We both know she’s lying through her fashionably bleached teeth.

Meanwhile, where the heck is Ray? It isn’t until the second act that somebody decides to go looking for him, and even that is a ploy to get a certain poker expert away from the others for some wooing and cooing.

They find a mysterious wooden shack where one of their members has been separated from her life by way of a slashed throat. Others turn up similarly murdered, and the story proceeds from there.

Clues are left along the way, but they aren’t developed. The manner of death might suggest a motive – that isn’t pursued. Nor is the possibility that one of them is the killer. It’s as if screenwriter didn’t know what to do with those complications and let them die on the vine.

The dialogue is as blah as unflavored yogurt and the pace as brisk as a jar of sun tea on the sidewalk. I’ve seen scarier episodes of HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.” Acting is similarly uninspired. The sole breath of life is Freddie (Perez Hilton), and even he is saddled with the stereotype of the over-the-top token gay boy who runs from the fight because he doesn’t want to break a nail.

I hated everyone and didn’t care who died. I wasn’t scared – not once – and stuck around only for the reveal, which was oddly anticlimactic and sprang from the ethers with little setup. My emotional investment lay in Gaby’s pricey convertible, which I hoped wouldn’t be scratched.

It’s a shame because “Most Likely” could have been a funny, sexy horror movie, like “Happy Death Day” or “Buffy.” Instead, it’s a paint-by-number middle school video project where every single part was phoned in.

I saw it Netflix, the online equivalent of the crappy Grade Z movie section in your old video rental store. But let me do you this favor:

Don’t bother. Grade D.

Stone is a former journalist and author.

Image courtesy of Pics4free by way of a Creative Commons license.

I’ve never been to a high school reunion and I likely never will. No, I wasn’t picked on – no more than anybody else. There are fates worse than being picked on.

I was ignored.

I wasn’t good looking. I wasn’t popular. I wasn’t good at sports. My grades were average. I wasn’t a joiner, and I didn’t belong to any caste in the high school social hierarchy.

I was invisible.

I went to exactly one party during my three years of high school. I never got drunk or took drugs. I had zero dates. I rode the bus – except one day, when a friend let me ride to school with him in his father’s car. We drove around the parking lot so everybody could see us. I never got in trouble, except once, when a science teacher gave me a zero on a test because I talked during test time. To be fair, he’d warned us that any talking would result in a zero.

My high school days weren’t miserable. Movies give us a gloomy picture of high school as a place where popular kids shine at the expense of unpopular kids. That wasn’t my experience. I knew popular kids and they were nice to me, from the blond football quarterback hero to the cheerleading captain. The clubbers, the athletes, the smart people – they didn’t lord it over everyone else, though we all knew who they were.

But high school was no fun, either. Not for me. Being invisible reminded me of my limitations, and in ways it reinforced them, so I rarely tried to exceed my grasp because I knew I would fail.

What saved me, a little, was tennis, which I started playing the summer I graduated from high school. I loved it and played every chance I could. Over time I got better, and tried my hand at tournaments. I lost my first match, but I was hooked. Two years later I won a tournament. That victory gave me confidence to try other things, and the lesson I took from my tennis experience was that I couldn’t succeed without failing, maybe several times. That mindset served me well in my fiction writing. After trying and failing for 20 years, I finally sold a work of fiction to a professional, paying market.

It was then I knew I was not the blond football quarterback hero, the guy with straight A’s on his report card, or the president of the student council. For me, success would be hard fought. But you know what? I’m OK with that now.

I have a few friends from high school I keep in touch with, but overall I have no desire to revisit those days, or remember a time when I was not comfortable with who I am.

So if any of my high school chums want to reconnect, look me up here, not at a reunion.

About the author:

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at .