Fate has been a debated topic for as long as man has questioned his very existence on this earth. Most people think fate rests in the hands of a supernatural force, an energy that is unseen to the naked eye that shapes our lives through a cosmic formula that is in incomprehensible to the human brain.
However, I like to think of fate as other people. A lot of our lives are not in our own control, and this can be a frightening concept to most. Most of our lives are left to the indirect control of other people who we come into contact everyday whether it be fleeting or direct.
Why was I late for that job interview? Was it because fate (the supernatural) didn’t want me to get that job because it wasn’t part of my life plan, or was it simply because another fellow person decided to drink on the job that day, roll their 18-wheeler, and cause carnage and mayhem on the Express Way? Why am I in the hospital right now paralyzed from the neck to the waist? Was it because some teen was texting and rear-ended me at a red light, or was it because it was the EMS attendants first day on the job, and through inexperience and nervousness failed to properly secure my neck with the brace to which caused my body to move around too much on the stretcher? Why did that stunner decide to go home with me that night at that bar called Luigis? Was it because I looked my best, said all the right triggers, or was it because she just saw her best friend get married that weekend, and was thus in a certain emotional state?
Regardless, the fact remains there are other people on this earth besides us. The layers are complex to events that happen in life, and most of the time we don’t even know we are playing a role in some of the most important decisions of other people’s lives; much like that stunner’s best friend who didn’t know that her aforementioned wedding planted a seed inside that girls mind that night at Luigis.
The 2010 film Die directed by Dominic James centers around the concept of fate and how we play a role in others life excursions. Fate in the film is used in the context of something that we can place hope in to resolve situations without assuming responsibility for what comes to those we use fate on. It shows us that we have more in common with complete strangers than we ever would have thought.
Keeping it brief, Die is a play on words that combines the verb and noun form of the word when rolling a die becomes the deciding factor in how much torture the protagonists will have to endure. A “1″ roll is the least amount of damage while “6″ is the most and it’s a game of chance that says if you live or die in this film. A simple premise, the movie tries to give it depth by tracking the police in their search for the tortured captives while we discover more and more about the flawed main characters who are rolling the die to save their lives.
Six seemingly unrelated strangers (Elias Koteas, Emily Hampshire, Patricia McKenzie, Karl Pruner, Katie Boland, Fabio Fulco) who have at one time or another attempted suicide are kidnapped and held prisoner by a mysterious man (John Pyper-Ferguson) who forces them to play deadly games from inside an undisclosed warehouse locale. One by one the victims are asked to settle on the fate of another by the single roll of a die, doing so under threat of death by their captor. Taking much of the same core ideas and plot structure from the Saw films, the cheekily named existential shocker Die is every bit a slight rip off as the aforementioned Saw.
However, this film has its own strengths beyond its plot weaknesses and parallels to the infamous Saw trials. A deep range of sepia tones, dark shadows and sparse lighting filtered through almost every frame, emphasizing the resounding sense of oppression and fear brought upon by the grim subject matter. The film is also strikingly produced and features an exceptionally fertile production design; something rarely found in this type of movie fare.
Furthermore, Die brings forward a fairly brilliant collection of strong performances to the table, most notably Ferguson as the films’ lead villain. For a movie that deals so unforgivably in the value of human life and the extent to which one will go in order to survive one could have easily propositioned a maniacal, wise-cracking, larger-than-life scoundrel to head the mayhem. Not so here. The measured, persuasive – even charming presence of ‘Jacob’ defies common genre convention in almost every way imaginable and makes for a genuinely intriguing antagonist. He is a criminally underrated actor to say the absolute least.
In closing, Die is a film that is deeply unappreciated by the street consensus. Yes, one could look at the film as a rip-off to a Saw plot-line, however, in its own right it stands as something a bit ambitious for its defiance of the stereotypical presence of the antagonist and its very sleek and sharp production style. With that said I’ll leave it up to you whether or not you want to gamble your time, and roll the dice on this film.