YOU DIE – GET THE APP, THEN DIE (2018)
Directed by Alessandro Antonaci, Daniel Lascar, Stefano Mandalà
Written by Alessandro Antonaci, Daniel Lascar, Stefano Mandalà
Starring Carola Cudemo, William Angiuli, Micol Damilano, Ja’Michael Darnell, Teodoro Garruto, Erica Landolfi, Rocco Marazzita, Daniele Marmi, Simone Moretto, Alice Piano, Simone Valentino
So all through YOU DIE (full name YOU DIE – GET THE APP, THEN DIE…I’m sure it sounds better in Italian), I kept repeating the title with a thick Italian accent. Ah-you-ah die-yah!
See? It’s fun, right? It’s a fun thing we’re now all doing.
YOU DIE is an app that is passed from phone to phone. Someone borrows your phone and downloads the app, cursing you with visions of dead people getting ever closer to you that only you can see. At first, you can only see the dead people through your phone, then the dead start showing up in real life. The app counts down on your phone for 24 hours. When the 24 hours are up…ah you-ah die-yah! If you pass the app on to someone else, the countdown resets and you have to redo the process before the countdown reaches zero again. Rinse, repeat forever until…you get the picture. When a good-willed young gal named Asia (Carola Cudemo) gets infected with the app, she tries everything she can to survive without having to pass on the curse to anyone else.
I’d be all over this film with my criticism kung fu if not for the fact that this is an extremely well made film. The acting by the young cast is top notch and the story runs actress Carola Cudemo through the emotional wringer as she tries desperately to find a solution to the problem without harming anyone else. Her Asia has the natural goodness that most wouldn’t be brave enough to show as she keeps herself from caving and turning into someone who selfishly passes the curse on to someone else. I was totally invested in her character as she seems to be one of the few people with actual morals in this film. As with IT FOLLOWS, the curse still is a metaphor for terminal sexual disease, but also in this COVID-19 era, it can be associated to any disease. The only difference is that instead of passing the curse onto someone through sex, the film relies on something way more intimate—borrowing someone else’s cell phone. If you don’t think that is intimate contact, just let a stranger hold your phone for a minute and see how uncomfortable it makes you feel.
Some of the scares are hokey, but there is the same kind of creeping dread effect you get with IT FOLLOWS as only the infected, and you as the viewer, can see the dead slowly approaching in the distance. There are attempts at shock and awe, but most of the scares are direct lifts from other more popular films. What is affective is the sound design of YOU DIE, as the phone app makes a distinctive crackling sound as it counts down. There are also some great moments of musical terror as the tensions amp up in Asia’s plight to survive.
YOU DIE is a blatant lift of IT FOLLOWS, PULSE, and the J-Horror tech-phobic films of the early oughts. The film even goes so far as to have the main characters rent IT FOLLOWS and make a RING reference. Had this film been made fifteen years ago, YOU DIE might have actually felt relevant and been quite popular. As is, YOU DIE is a very familiar looking film that is really better than it ought to be.