GINACARLO Espsito’s latest film, This is your Death, is a misfiring satire of reality television.
It begins with a murderous incident on reality show Married to Millionaire which sparks a twisted idea in the mind of cut-throat television executive Ilana Katz (Famke Janssen).
Capitalising on legal loopholes, Ilana proposes the ultimate ‘shock’ reality TV event: live suicide. Ilana’s idea appears as ridiculous on-screen as it does in writing, but the story stumbles on as she somehow persuades presenter Adam Rogers (Josh Duhamel) and live TV producer Sylvia (Caitlin FitzGerald) to get on-board with the twisted premise.
The film lays all of its cards on the table about 15 minutes in. Adam promises to give the audience something ‘real’ and put on a ‘life-affirming’ show – ‘This is Your Death’.
His logic for doing so is as confused as the film’s satire. Even still, every effort is made to convince us Adam is intelligent – after all, he went to Yale and knows who Shakespeare is. It does not take long, of course, for Adam to lose sight of his hopeful message as the pursuit of money and ratings quickly takes over.
Cleaner Mason Washington (Esposito) is set up early on as a future contestant on This is Your Death. He works two jobs before returning home to a worried wife. They need money – fast – to pay their bills and keep their kids in a nice school. The predictability of Mason’s purpose in the film extinguishes any of his intended sympathy.
This is your Death continues to put us through numerous graphic suicides without giving back anything new or insightful to reflect on.
The film is as empty and exploitative as the reality culture it tries to condemn – a woefully hypocritical attempt at satire.
Stick to Black Mirror and The Hunger Games – because watching This is Your Death is time wasted.