Allessandro Antonaci and Daniel Lascar’s film You Die is almost too realistic for the time we currently live in; given the COVID-19 outbreak- a film like this might be too hard for some to take...
... I encourage you to stick with this feature though as it does some inspiring exploration of the moral quandaries that the world might experience in a pandemic, much like the one we find ourselves in now. I doubt the filmmakers would have ever thought their feature film about a phone app that kills you unless you transmit the virus to another would have ever been so salient and appropriate for the current state of the world.
The concept of a terrible virus that must be spread in order to save your own life is not a new one. In fact, this same narrative device was explored semi-recently in David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows. Antonaci and Lascar definitely were aware of this fact, as shown by the appearance of the Blu-ray for It Follows on-screen early on. It’s a clever nod to a fellow filmmaker and one that makes you appreciate the gesture of the homage even more. This could easily have been an Italian remake of Mitchell’s films but it shines uniquely in so many ways. It is refreshing to see new ideas pumped into the cinematic veins of virus films.
You Die begins with frantic Eva (Carola Cudemo) heading to the apartment of Milo (Simone Valentino), who seems surprised to see her. Their interaction seems to suggest that they aren’t exactly friends. Eva is distraught and at a certain point, she heads into his room with his phone and quickly departs. There is palpable tension and once he gets his phone back, he quickly discovers a new app was installed. When it is used he can see things through it, not too dissimilar from Augmented reality games. However, this time when a user opens the app, it shows ghosts and begins a 24 hour countdown. The film then switches to our lead Asia who is played by Erica Landolfi. The film follows her as she travels around the town to eventually meet with her brother Filippo (Simone Moretto) and sister-in-law Claudia (Mica Damilano). The chemistry between these three actors really sells the intimate moments of a family getting ready to celebrate an achievement of Fillippo’s.
Having a scene of serenity follow the opening intensity was a brilliant choice.
Eventually, Asia runs into Milo who looks drugged out and has not slept. He asks to borrow her phone in a grocery store and this is where the film takes off and doesn’t let up. Asia soon discovers the app and at first tries to delete it but slowly realizes that it can’t be deleted. As time goes on, she starts to realize that the counter has just hours left and if she does not give the “virus” to someone else, she will die. However, the twist here is even after you give the virus to someone it doesn’t leave the phone, it just resets the timer and the virus must be given to someone new. This premise of actively given the virus to someone just to give yourself 24 more hours to live is fantastic and the rest of the film is spent following Asia as she struggles with her first 24 hours and what she will do. A lot is revealed that would be too spoiler-heavy, but needless to say, it’s an impressive feature.
The script by Antonaci and Lascar is sharp and really drives home the bleak reality of the situation. The acting is top-notch by every single cast member. It’s always crucial in a film like this to have the performances be believable and the cast of You Die delivers. As the viewer watches Asia and her friends and family learn and struggle with the new reality that is unjustly put upon them, you can’t help but appreciate how this film is a refreshing and honest exploration about what one would do to stay alive.
After the shocking conclusion of You Die, I also could not help but think about the world we’re currently living in. Every time someone chooses to go out without a mask or not take the disease that is ravaging the world seriously, they are potentially harming or killing fellow humans. We must rise above and realize the potential we have to take care of one another.
It’s crazy that this film has nothing to do with the pandemic, as it was filmed in 2018. It's a good film on its own merits but 2020’s context provides something that makes it even more special. I can’t recommend You Die enough! There are a thousand more little details that I am choosing not to talk about because going in with as little knowledge as possible is the best way to see this movie. I hope everyone is safe and sound and enjoying the world of film from their own home. If you can handle going into a film with a timely premise, there is a lot that You Die has to offer.
You Die is available on Digital and DVD May 12th from Dark Sky Films.
By Justin Drabek
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