TADFF review: Must Love Death (but no obligation to love Must Love Death)

Last night’s Toronto After Dark screening of the German horror-comedy Must Love Death was well-attended and crowd reaction was positive, but did the film itself deserve such accolades? In a word… NEIN!

Must Love Death combines (awkwardly) romantic comedy with torture pornk. Norman (Sami Loris) is a NY studio musician who becomes suicidal after being dumped by his girlfriend and finding out that his potential new mate Jennifer (Manon Kahle), whom he met after she ran him over, is already dating douchebag actor. He hooks up with three other supposedly despondent souls, but their plan to all hang themselves in a remote cabin in the woods turns out to be a ploy: they all just want to watch him die. What follows is distasteful and only occasionally funny as the villains kidnap and torture the folks whom they come across.

Part of the problem is that director Andreas Schaap uses German actors and an English-language script. Perhaps if we didn’t know that going in it would have been less noticeable, but it becomes obvious that English is not the filmmakers’ first language on more than one occasion, usually when a joke does not translate. And the torture sequences are just unsavoury and, at this point in horror history, played out. Kudos to actor Jeff Burrell, though, for his performance as Sean, the head torturer. His presence gives Must Love Death whatever charm might make it worth watching.


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