A Risky Business
A Necessary Death, written and directed by Daniel Stamm, gave me quite a shock. However, by treating the topic of suicide in a disturbing yet creative way, Stamm helps viewers gain a better understanding of this somber issue. He also makes us feel a bit guilty while watching a film student and his crew as they make a documentary about someone who’s planning to kill himself. Some important questions are explored here, including:
Does anyone have the right to commit suicide?
Why do some individuals decide to kill themselves?
How far should filmmakers go in covering an issue like this?
How much influence would the documentary itself have on the behavior of the main subject?
Frankly, I have to admit being glued to my seat while viewing this upsetting film. For me, the highlight of A Necessary Death involves the way Stamm’s movie draws us into the life of its characters while they’re working on such a risky project. I’m no fan of hand-held camera work, but just as in The Last Exorcism, also directed by Stamm, it works for me in this offering too. Everything seems so real -- and the suspense is excruciating! Will Matt (Matthew Tilley), an exceptionally appealing guy, actually go through with his planned suicide? If so, how will the ambitious director (G.J. Echternkamp) and his worried crew members (Valerie Hurt, Michael Traynor) react after becoming so friendly with him?
Although everyone appearing on camera rings true, Matt’s mother (Shelly Isaacs) really got to me in her brief but very touching sequence. Good thing I had plenty of tissues handy just in case.
With A Necessary Death, Stamm succeeds in spotlighting a steadily growing problem in our society. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the suicide rate has been going up since 2000 and has reached its highest point in 15 years. Among the military, suicide accounts for more deaths than combat since 2010. Facts like these cannot be ignored, and if it takes a shocking film like A Necessary Death to get our attention, then so be it. While not a preachy film by any means, it’s definitely an emotionally powerful one.
(Released by Brickwall Productions; not rated by MPAA.)
For more information about A Necessary Death, go to the film’s official site as well as to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.