Film Review: Those Who Deserve to Die

STUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Bret Wood | CAST:  Joe Sykes, Alice Lewis, Rachel Frawley, Dane Bingenheimer, Lynn Lowry, Kelly O’Neal, John Schmedes
RELEASE DATE: Aug. 18 | PRICE: DVD $13.99, Blu-ray $19.99
BONUSES: deleted scenes, promotional video, “Malice of Alice: a Mother/Daughter Portrait”
SPECS: NR | 91 min. | Thriller/Horror | 2.25:1 widescreen | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 3Dishes.jpg (40×13) | Audio 3Dishes.jpg (40×13) | Video  | Overall 3Dishes.jpg (40×13)

There’s a fine tradition of creepy children in horror movies. That tradition is evoked, and another child added to the rogues’ gallery of preteen terrors, in the thriller Those Who Deserve to Die by filmmaker-archivist Bret Wood (The Little Death).

Alice Lewis means business in Those Who Deserve to Die.

The little girl in question is the sidekick to a serial killer. She is seen several times at the beginning of the film and then appears to a young veteran (Joe Sykes), a survivor of torture at a Middle Eastern prison camp. By a certain point in the film –  less than a third of the way in – we know that the veteran is the serial killer and that his spectral sidekick has an agenda: kill a group of senior citizens in a small town who wronged someone close to her.

The film contains plot twists that depend on us knowing the identity of the killer, but that knowledge doesn’t spoil the viewer’s enjoyment (or bloodlust, depending on the viewer). For, no matter which character is in “ascendence” at any given point, the vengeful little girl (Alice Lewis) is always the focus of attention whenever she appears.

Wood adroitly uses elements found in both classic American and Italian suspense movies (a little Bad Seed here, Kill, Baby, Kill! there). Some familiar Southern archetypes appear, as the viewer’s allegiance is made to shift from one group of characters to another. This shift is reflected in the film’s eclectic and stirring score by Rob Gal and Paul Mercer.

Rachel Frawley ably plays the character who has the biggest “arc,” an academic who falls in love with the killer. Cult-movie actress Lynn Lowry (The Crazies, Score, They Came From Within) impresses as her ruthless mother. Although she doesn’t have as much screen time as the adults, newcomer Alice Lewis does indeed steal the proceedings as the antihero’s homicidal accomplice.

Buy or Rent Those Who Deserve to Die

About Ed

Ed Grant has written about film for a wide range of periodicals, books and websites. He edited the reference book The Motion Picture Guide Annual and, since 1993, has produced and hosted the weekly cable program Media Funhouse, which Time magazine called “the most eclectic and useful movie show on TV.”