Always the First to Die
Always The First To Die is a highly atmospheric, dual timeline thriller with a killer setting, including an old, rundown hotel known as Pinecrest Estate that was once the site of the filming of the ill-fated, some say cursed, horror film Breathless.
The film was directed by the famous Rick Plummer who was known to terrorize his actors in order to capture their authentic terror on film. Adding to the sinister ambiance in the present is the Category Four hurricane raging across the island, leaving everyone who didn’t get out in time cut off from the outside world. No power. No phone. No help. Jacobs delivers a setting that reeks of danger complete with torrential rain, shutters flapping, wind howling, trees toppling and could it possibly be old ghosts taunting? Rick now owns the decaying mansion and is planning to film the sequel to Breathless there . . . and Mother Nature has provided the perfect backdrop. He couldn’t have set the scene any better if he tried.
Liv escaped the Keys twenty years ago and vowed never to return. As a teenager, her walk-on roll in the horror film was upgraded to a major role when the lead actress became too spooked to continue. When the movie ended in tragedy, Liv left home with the only good thing to come out of the nightmare – she married Cam Plummer, son of Rick. They moved away and had a daughter. Now Liv learns that their daughter Quinn lied to her about a school field trip in order to slip away and travel to Pinecrest Estate to see her grandfather Rick Plummer, knowing she’s forbidden to speak to him. Cam had mysteriously disappeared the previous year while at the haunted estate writing a book and is presumed dead. Liv is both scared to death and angry at her daughter’s deception, but for the moment her main goal is to get to the island and rescue Quinn from both the storm . . . and Rick Plummer. The story that ensues is a horror film in the making.
Always The First To Die unfolds through dual timelines – twenty years ago at the filming of the original film and now all these years later in the present in Liv’s point of view. It’s a highly effective way of rendering this story as it serves to keep the musky air of impending doom ever present and hanging over each character’s head. In many ways, the past/present stories mirror each other as events spiral out of control. Characters are well fleshed out and mostly believable although I feel like the daughter Quinn presents as younger and less mature than her age would indicate. The tone and pace elevate as the story progresses, building tension and trepidation. There seems to always be a question as to the source of the incidents randomly occurring in the old mansion – are they caused by a real person or something else? And why are events so reminiscent of the original film screenplay? Coincidence? Or set up?
Fans of old horror films with slasher vibes are sure to enjoy the dark, convoluted and twisted Always The First To Die with its eerily creepy tone and setting. While it didn’t have me looking over my shoulder at every creaking noise, I found it to be well written and expertly delivered. In my eyes, the setting is the main character and star of the show. Grab this one if you enjoy a touch of horror with suspense now and then. You may be surprised at who done it.
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