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You’re Killing Me Review
You’re Killing Me is a standout independent thriller that smartly weaves its twisting story on top of a solid foundation of interesting characters, tense action, and difficult moral quandaries. The film has some big shifts in tone that work to surprise the viewer, but the tonal shifts work in context so that it feels more-or-less natural rather than needlessly jarring. And at the heart of it all is a strong lead performance from McKaley Miller.
McKaley Miller stars as Eden, a prep-school student desperate to get into the prestigious Pennbrooke College along with her best friend Zara (Keyara Milliner). It just so happens that Eden’s classmate Schroder (Brice Anthony Heller) is the son of a congressman who is on the board at Pennbrooke, so Eden plans to ingratiate herself with Schroder in hopes of getting a letter of recommendation from his father. Unfortunately, Schroder is a condescending jerk.
Regardless, Eden puts her pride aside and attends a house party thrown by Schroder, dragging Zara with her to provide support for her and her plan. While at the party, Eden discovers a video that implicates Schroder and his friends in the disappearance of a fellow classmate. From there, You’re Killing Me quickly escalates into harrowing fight for survival for Eden and Zara. This middle section of the movie feels something like a reverse home invasion where the goal is to escape someone else’s home rather than to break in.
One of the best parts of You’re Killing Me is how it builds tension. After Eden discovers the incriminating video on the phone of Schroder’s friend Gooch (Wil Deusner), the tense atmosphere increases steadily. Faux-friendly conversations turn into thinly-veiled threats, which then become straightforward attacks. The action intensifies until it looks like there is nowhere left to go, and then it goes somewhere else. Avoiding specific details in order to avoid spoilers, the final act shifts into a different tone that pays off in an aggressively dramatic fashion.
The changes in tone in You’re Killing Me help keep the audience engaged in the action. Looking at the movie from a broad view, you can almost see its three acts as three distinct subgenres of thrillers: crime mystery, reverse home invasion, and revenge. Though that might sound like a lot to try to accomplish in one 90-minute film, it all comes together nicely thanks to a well-plotted script (from Walker Hare and Brad Martocello) and smart direction (from Beth Hanna and Jerren Lauder). It is a lot, but seeing it all reach a satisfying conclusion makes you feel like you’ve been on a real journey with Eden.
It’s not just Eden we’re on this journey with though. You’re Killing Me is filled with interesting characters. Some characters are obviously more complex than others, but each one of them is given enough of a backstory to help their actions make perfect sense within the context of their situation. A few of the more interesting moments in the movie come directly from character interactions. Characters who we know are (or will be) antagonistic towards each other still sometimes manage to find common ground in certain ways. Everyone seems to be a shade of gray rather than black or white, which greatly helps to increase the film’s already tense situations.
The strong characters also help to support the movie during a few of its more predictable twists. Most of the plot is unfolds in an interesting way, but there are a couple of moments when most viewers will see a development coming in advance. Of course, not everything needs to be a surprise to be effective (and, in fact, the movie does a good job of setting up key moments and props for later payoffs), but for people who thrive on the unexpected, they might roll their eyes at a few well-tread tropes used in the movie. But even when you see the plot twists coming, by that point you’re not going to be sure about how the characters will react. That uncertainty keeps You’re Killing Me engaging right up until the final scene.
And finally, possibly the most impactful and important aspects of You’re Killing Me are the moral questions it presents. The characters are all thrown into a situation where they have to make spur-of-the-moment decisions. Many of these choices involve choosing between what’s right versus what’s practical. Selflessness versus selfishness. Whether or not they’re willing to stick to their morals in the face of imminent danger. These dilemmas create clashes viewers may not see coming, and the movie is better for it.
However, even with its questions of morality, You’re Killing Me doesn’t spell out any certain message it wants viewers to take away. The action, tension, and emotions are the most important aspects of the movie. Viewers are left on their own to decide whether or not they think certain characters make the “right” decisions. This kind of approach to the material helps You’re Killing Me stand out as a movie that will likely stick with viewers after the final credits roll.
You’re Killing Me Review Summary and Recommendation
If you’re looking for horror like some outlets label the movie as, you might want to check out the trailer first. That will give you a good representation of the movie’s approach to the material which, in this horror fan’s opinion, isn’t very much like horror. That’s not to say horror fans won’t enjoy it. Many will, but going in with the wrong expectations (violent home invasion, slasher, etc.) will do the movie a disservice.
You’re Killing Me is a good recommendation for any crime thriller fan who enjoys a fair amount of action with their thrills. Though the basic story itself may not stand out from the crowd, the well-structured plot and memorable character interactions more than make up for it. The movie is also shot well and looks great, with more than a few key images that help elevate the overall feel of the movie. To summarize, You’re Killing Me is a smart and enjoyable movie that thriller fans should check out.
The Cast of You’re Killing Me
McKaley Miller as Eden Murphy
McKaley Miller plays Eden, a strong-willed young woman who is willing to risk her life for her beliefs. McKaley Miller may be best known as Haley (the outgoing best friend of Diana Silvers’ Maggie) in Ma (2019).
Keyara Milliner as Zara
Keyara Milliner plays Zara, Eden’s supportive best friend who has a logical approach to life. Keyara Milliner recently appeared in AMC’s Mayfair Witches as Odette Grieve, the sister of Ciprien Grieve (Tongayi Chirisa).
Dermot Mulroney as Congressman Schroder
Dermot Mulroney plays Barret Schroder’s father, Congressman Schroder. The congressman is stern man who wields his considerable power in questionable ways. Dermot Mulroney is a veteran actor who has a long and successful history of prominent roles in many genre films.
Anne Heche as Astrid Schroder
Anne Heche plays Barret Schroder’s mother, Astrid. If her husband, the congressman, is lawful evil, Astrid is chaotic evil. Astrid is conniving and cold, and she is willing to do absolutely anything to protect her family. Anne Heche had a long and varied career, and You’re Killing Me was one of her final roles before her unfortunate passing in 2022.
- Brice Anthony Heller as Barrett Theodore Schroder – Referred to only by his last name, Schroder is an arrogant rich-kid who looks down on nearly everyone.
- Wil Deusner as Gooch – A close friend of Schroder’s, Gooch is an awkward teen who is easily led due to poor self-esteem.
- Morgana Van Peebles as Kendra – Kendra is Schroder’s best friend. Like Schroder, Kendra looks down on other people and is quick to embrace violence.
- Jayson Warner Smith as Joel – Joel is Eden’s father. He loves his daughter and does his best to protect and provide for her despite physical and financial difficulties.