Love Hurts, Most Horrible Things (2022)
Directed by: Hiroshi Katagiri
Written by: Aviva Dove-Viebahn, Brittany Fonte
Starring: Andrés Erickson, Grant Pfost, Martina Vargas, Natalie Burn, Rich Paul, Sarah J. Butler, Sean Patrick Flanery, Sean Sprawling, Simon Phillips, Vincent van Hinte
MOST HORRIBLE THINGS (2022)
Directed by Hiroshi Katagiri
Six strangers are invited to a Valentine’s Day dinner party by a mysterious high-class host. Their presence is part of a social experiment involving reaching a personal breakthrough and, upon completing the night and achieving their own breakthrough, they’ll be rewarded with $10,000 for attending. At first, it seems an easy way for these twenty-somethings to earn some cash for doing very little but it seems their host has more in store for them than what they expect.
Following their work on Gehenna: Where Death Lives, director Hiroshi Katagiri and actors Sean Sprawling and Simon Philips return with murder mystery-esque thriller MOST HORRIBLE THINGS, also known as LOVE HURTS. However, unlike most murder mysteries that unravel as the film progresses, this one shows you the outcome right at the start. Four bodies are found at a stately home and the host and the butler are being interrogated by detectives at the police department. Through their questioning, we get an insight to what happened at their dinner party as well as seeing how the event unfolded, right from the moment the strangers first meet.
I love a good murder mystery thriller and MOST HORRIBLE THINGS starts off with such promise. There’s plenty of little things that pop up on-screen to raise questions in the viewer’s mind and tease what’s to come. The host is the most curious of all with his peculiar demeanour and the way he reacts when questioned about being in love. His first appearance is mistaken for being purely the entertainment as he greets the guests as a drag artist, miming to a record. However, when he joins them for dinner, sans makeup, but still wearing feminine attire, they realise that this is their host for the evening and the person who’s promised them the eye-watering amount of cash. As he probes and questions his guests, we see him and his butler manipulate their guests into revealing more about themselves and take delight in dredging up some home truths that were better left alone.
Sean Sprawling takes to his character as the host with such relish, as does Simon Phillips as butler Alfred who assists the guests but is working as a right-hand man for his boss. Alfred’s affable, neutral-style approach is much more palatable for the guests compared to the eccentric host but it’s clear to see he has the same intentions. It’s little wonder to see these two individuals being questioned over the deaths of four people that evening, and as the film unfolds we find out which four succumbed and how.
MOST HORRIBLE THINGS is not particularly gory though it has a few good horror moments that will surprise. However, it’s the twists and turns in the host’s game that will keep you watching. Unfortunately, as the film descends into its final third, it seems to lose its way in a clunky fashion. The ending isn’t much better and feels a bit of a let down which left me wondering whether that was really it as the effort didn’t seem to be particularly worth the end result within the frame of the characters and their story.
Despite my issues with some of the narrative elements and screenplay towards the end of the movie, MOST HORRIBLE THINGS has a certain style to it that makes it such an easy and enjoyable movie to watch. The style simmers as the tension builds between the characters. It’s these moments which are my particular highlights of the movie.