Before I Die (2003) – By Timothy Martinez

Who doesn’t love a good anthology? Instead of one story, you get several! When it’s a horror and/or science fiction anthology, that’s even extra special, cuz it’s three (or four or five) times the chills and thrills. Plus, for those ADD sufferers out there, you don’t have to sit through the entire thing at once. While that may be true of any film you choose to watch at home, an anthology gives you clearly defined moments where you can easily stop things and return later. Before I Die is one such film. Comprised of three short stories and one wrap around segment, it makes the perfect viewing choice for days when you wanna watch something, but also need to get other things done, too.

The framing story concerns a writer trying to make progress on his new book, the three stories being what he is writing. In the first segment, Time For Dessert, a woman picks up men in public places and then takes them back to her place. One man notices this and thinking the men are being seduced and having wild sex, does his best to be her next conquest. Of course, the fact that none of her companions are seen again does not seem to register with him. The second story, Last Resort, tells the tale of a honeymooning couple that is sent to a resort through a travel agency. When they arrive the place is completely empty, but a note has been left for them explaining that they are the only guests and pretty much have the run of the place. After doing lots of what newlyweds do, they begin to suspect that something is not quite right with this resort. In the final story, Someone Is Sleeping In My Bed, an escapee from a mental institution kills some teens and then menaces a woman in her home. Finally, it’s back to the framing story for one last twist.

Each of the stories moves along at a good pace, never bogging down in unnecessary details and keeping the narrative moving forward. I watched the entire film in one sitting and was surprised at how fast it was over, which for me is a sign of not only good pacing, but excellent plotting and storytelling. Keep in mind that this is a low budget affair, so the FX are not that extravagant and the one monster costume is pretty cheesy. However, I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again: story matters more to me than all the cinematic bells and whistles in the world. This movie easily got my attention, held it for an hour and a half and left me feeling entertained. In the end, isn’t that why we watch such films in the first place? For devoted fans of independent cinema, this one is definitely worth checking out.