All but the very worst studio films have enough people in the room to keep them from being truly terrible, while smaller indies rarely swing — and miss — big, due to their lack of funds. But “Chain of Death” is incompetently made in the way that only a movie with some — but not enough — money can be.
In director David Martín Porras’ thriller, recognizable actors are stuck in Andres Rosende’s nonsensical script, which mistakes idiotic twists for profundity. The visuals have a glossy sheen, but that gleam is from a foul-smelling stress sweat rather than a healthy glow.
Mike (John Patrick Amedori) hates admitting the traits he shares with his abusive father (Ray Wise), from their mutual profession to a crippling genetic disease. Mike returns to his childhood home to help out at his father’s ophthalmology practice, but he begins to exhibit symptoms like shaking hands and hallucinations.
Mike contemplates suicide, though he wants his wife (Madeline Zima) and mother (Adrienne Barbeau) to collect his life insurance, so he turns to a mysterious group called The Chain. In order for someone to make his death look like an accident, he must first kill another person who wants to die.
“Chain of Death” isn’t without its pleasures. Genre fans will be happy to see Barbeau and Wise, as well as the brief but gasp-inducing moments of gore. But it’s laughably bad, leaving audiences to giggle while wondering if they’re sharing in Mike’s hallucinations or this crazy movie actually exists.
Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes
Playing: Starts July 19, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; available on VOD July 30