It doesn’t pay to be a billionaire on screen these days. From the Knives Out murder mysteries to last year’s oscar-baiting Triangle of Sadness to the more recent Saltburn, blue blood families have been given the Shish Kabob treatment as of late, being skewered for everything from excess, to influencer-fuelled narcissism, to outright disregard for anyone a red cent below their income level. With the economy leaving most of us treading water just slightly over the poverty line (Happy Carbon-tax hike to my fellow Canadians), it’s no surprise that the eat-the-rich subgenre would inevitably find its way under the CANCON umbrella in Jeremy Lalonde’s pleasantly insane feature Daniel’s Gotta Die.

Daniel Powell (Joel David Moore) has never had a family in the traditional sense. He was raised alone by his zillionaire father Edward (Iggy Pop) while his assorted siblings were scattered to boarding school. When the family patriarch suddenly dies, his will leaves a stipulation that unless the siblings can truly bond together over a weekend at the family beach house under the supervision of family second-in-command Lawrence (the late Bob Saget), Daniel alone will inherit everything.

While most of the family collectively spits poison, Daniel is positively thrilled at the development, hoping the family will finally have a chance to bond with both him and fiance Emily (Chantel Riley). But upon arriving at the tropical getaway, the barbaric brood including sociopath Mia (24-alum Mary Lynn Rajskub), eternal screw-up Victor (Jason Jones), and airhead influencer Carly (Jessica Powell)  immediately decide that simply killing Daniel and making off with the entire inheritance is the better part of malevolence. It is only their incompetence and the cross-purposes of Lawrence’s plan to make off with the nest egg himself plus the intrusion of several other players that will extend their insidious plot into 89 minutes of bloody and fiery mayhem.

Lalonde wastes nary a moment getting the farcical ball moving as Daniel’s best laid plans are almost immediately unravelled while his sinister sibling’s worst-laid plans manage to spin even more unhinged chaos. It’s an amusing house of cards that’s a real blast to watch slowly implode in zany fashion. There’s nary a lag as every attempt on Daniel’s life knocks over dominoes that trigger multiple laughs and even a few twists that made this reviewer forget he was screening this movie for work.

Even if Jones and Rajskub fail to make off with the money, they at least steal the show every chance they get with Jones’ loveable loser mounting a one-man comedy of errors and Rajskub’s icy sociopath planting a near-perfect deadpan in every scene she’s in (One wonders if she’s merely a dark-version of Chloe driven mildly insane by several scenes of cyber-hunting terrorists). 

Daniel succeeds as both a black comedy and a not-so-gentle reminder that true family is not necessarily linked by DNA. It can’t quite play ball with the likes of Glass Onion or The Menu due to simple matters of budget and scale, but LaLonde has once again proven that he’s a director committed to telling hilarious and zany screen stories, something CANCON could use a little more of. Recommended.




Daniel’s Gotta Die will be available to view on major VOD platforms on April 2

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