She survived the storm and the ritual, but Death of Me leaves the biggest questions answered. What happens to Christine now?
Death of Me by Darren Lynn Bousman, which was released in September but is now available on Netflix, is a claustrophobic and eerie chiller full of existential dread. Delivering a one-two punch of uneasy fear and paranoia. Who can you trust when everyone, including your own mind, is betraying you? In films like the original The Wicker Man and The Serpent And The Rainbow, the “otherness” of an unknown faith only amplifies that panic. Death of Me combines ancient curses, black magic, and the beauty of a largely untamed and potentially dangerous land to create an intoxicating cocktail of anxiety and terror.
A young couple vacationing on a tiny island in Thailand finds themselves faced with an unsettling video after a night of drinking. Christine, played by Maggie Q(Nikita, Designated Hero), and Neil, portrayed by Westworld’s Luke Hemsworth, wake up with no memory of the evening before and unexplained bruises. A video shot on Neil’s phone seems to show him brutally strangling, killing, and burying Christine. Neither person can remember anything, though, and Christine feels alive, if sore, sick, and confused. They have just twenty-four hours to piece together what has happened and get off the island before an impending storm with missing time and passports.
After missing the ferry, the couple has no choice but to retrace their previous night’s steps. That leads them down a dark hole of enigmatic people, cultural divides, and less than helpful locals with smiles on their faces. Making matters worse, Christine is feeling very sick, and disturbing hallucinations plague her. More alarming still is the local festival seems to be in honor of Christine. Things look bleak for Christine and Neil and only get bleaker. For this young couple, travel should be a comfortable thing. Neil makes a living off tourist journalism. He speaks enough of the language to get by, and their Air BnB is a gorgeous, well-appointed house. As the hours go by, it becomes clear there is nothing comfortable about this vacation.
What is Manu Miti?
Manu is a Sanskrit word that means the archetypal man. He is the first man and the one from which all other men derive. There are fourteen Manus that rule on successive days of Brahma. Manu is not a specific person but rather a title bestowed to a man who will lead and produce humans during his time. There have been nine so far. They rule during a period called Manvantara. That is a cosmic period of time ending with total destruction and thus the need for a new Manu to restart humanity. Now that the literal floodgates have been opened, I wonder if Christine will be carrying a Manu?
What is Nam Mun Prai?
Nam Mun Prai or Nam Man Prai is a real drink brewed in the streets of Thailand. It is reported to induce hallucinations, and it has been linked to the death of two young Canadians. It is less commonly a necromancy oil extracted from under a corpse’s tongue. The corpse needed to have died screaming in fear. Curiously, Phii Dtaay Hoeng Tang Glom is a variation where the corpse needs to be a deceased pregnant woman. Nam Man Prai is a powerful mind-control tool and necromantic magic requirement. This is the corpse oil the couple is given the night before.
Which Gods Do The Islanders Worship?
Hinduism is widely practiced in Thailand, and although not explicitly named, it is likely the God or Goddess the islanders pray to is Hindi. Indra is a strong candidate. He is the god of weather and wields lightning bolts. In the film’s final act, a storm has arrived on the island, and only a sacrifice to Indra will hold the storm at bay. When Christine escapes, there is no sacrifice. Christine traded her life for one of the worshippers, though. For the ritual to work, Indra demands the gift must be willing. Belief in him or his power is unnecessary, however. That makes the ending pretty bleak. Christine escapes because she is decidedly not willing but not before killing several of the islanders. They also are not willing, which means that Indra is not gifted his prize, and there will be no protection from the storm.
Are Neil and Christine dead?
They are both dead in different forms. Neil has been under the island’s influence since the night before, and he is completely dead. When Neil eviscerated himself on the dock with the flaying knife, that was it for him. Neil is alive the next day because he does interact with many of the islanders. He is not a delusion. Neil killed Christine, but because she had the pendant on, she lives. As long as she keeps the necklace on, she will live. However, she is stuck in limbo between living and dead.
The Ending Of Death Of Me
Christine is bound and prepared for sacrifice after a series of escalating weirdness, including disappearances, possible deaths, and dubious decisions. Everything has led to this. To avoid being decimated by storms, the islanders have been sacrificing travelers for decades. Hundreds of years even. This island has existed, protected from the elements of nature because of a deal. Despite numerous typhoons and rogue waves, the island remains safe and untouched. A news report warns travelers that a storm is coming and the evacuations are necessary; however, no one is worried on this secluded island. They steadfastly deny any storm.
Making matters worse, the islanders are actively working against Christine because she is the chosen sacrificial lamb. Everything from the “corpse oil” given to Christine and Neil to the hallucinative dreams of ritual preparation has been about making her ready for the Gods. Unlike King Paimon from Hereditary, the rituals are not about power but community preservation, more akin to Midsommar’s Harga. The Gods must have their ounce of flesh in exchange for ongoing protection.
The ritual required a great deal of bad facial surgery, a baby, and her willing death. Every sacrifice needed a pregnant woman who accepted death to save all the others. Likely, Christine became pregnant by Neil the night before, so step one is complete. The hazy nightmare she had earlier during lunch showed what happens to victims after they have been used. They remain on the island, used as shamans of sorts. They help prepare the next sacrifice, forever locked in a horrifying hell.
Christine managed to escape with the amulet given to her by the waitress, who also served her the tainted drink. This amulet was a vital part of the process because it was keeping her alive. That is why she did not die after Neil strangled and buried her the night before. Presumably, she is still pregnant. She is found dead by another boat, and both her body and the amulet are put into a body bag. When she was found, the amulet was not on her body. When it was put on her in the bag, it brought her back to life.
As long as she keeps the amulet on her, she will live. Several times Christine took the necklace off during the final day. Each time she suffered ill effects proving the amulet had power, and Christine needs it. Christine is now essentially a pregnant zombie. What she will give birth to is anyone’s guess. Will the island god come for his baby?
If anyone survived the typhoon, they are likely to be in bad shape. Most of the islanders have made their own deals for safety and good health. The Air BnB host Samantha(The Haunting Of Bly Manor’s Alex Essoe) made a deal to cure her cancer. I’m sure others made similar deals. Even if they survived the storm, their age and disease would come roaring back. Now that Christine has escaped with the amulet and has a magical island baby growing inside her, she will have to make her own choices. What will she be willing to sacrifice to keep the child she had been unable to have before coming to Thailand?
Death of Me is an inherently paranoid movie. Films about the vulnerability of travelers in a foreign land are a commonly used theme. Americans, in particular, are influenced by the stranger in a strange land trope. Black Magic, Voodoo, Hoodoo, and many other lesser-known spiritualities can provide excellent skeletal structure for a horror story. Thailand is a gorgeous place, but the culture, wildness, and threat of typhoons and hurricanes are daunting to travelers. Bousman’s film uses that to good effect even when the script is somewhat suspect.
You undoubtedly will see the twist coming. Despite knowing before Christine and Neil where things are headed, Death Of Me is still scary. A little like peeking behind your fingers when you know a jump scare is coming. You feel it coming and are embarrassed that you jumped anyway. It’s a guilty pleasure that could have been so much more but ended up being decently entertaining.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.