Before We Vanish by Steven Warner Film

Murder Bury Win | Michael Lovan

Credit: Gravitas Ventures

Murder Bury Win is overlong and overconfident, with impressive technical aspects that can’t save a losing game.


In building its story around three crowd-funding board game designers, thriller Murder Bury Win makes its indie sensibility resoundingly clear, and keeps its stakes remarkably low. Chris (Mikelen Walker), Adam (Erich Lane), and Barrett (Henry Alexander Kelly) are best friends who think they have stumbled upon a winning game idea, the titular Murder Bury Win, the goal of which is to kill and dispose of a body in the most efficient way possible while avoiding potential setbacks dictated by the board itself. Unsuccessful to say the least, the trio seemingly hit paydirt when they are approached by a mysterious individual (Craig Cackowski) who might just be able to make their dreams come true — but at a price. Soon, the threesome is forced to put its ample knowledge of death and disposal to the test, potentially pushing their friendship to the breaking point in the process.

What would help this setup immensely is if director-writer-producer-editor Michael Lovan had bothered to give our three protagonists any sort of dimension or made them even the least bit likeable, but even that low hurdle isn’t cleared. (Having the character of Adam resemble obnoxious actor extraordinaire Adam DeVine only proves how misguided the intentions are here, and certainly does nothing to engender sympathy.) Murder Bury Win is the kind of film that is far too confident in its own cleverness, little realizing that it’s doing nothing interesting with a scenario that could have been spun into a million different directions, any of them better than what has resulted here. Even at only 90 minutes, the film still feels hopelessly padded, with a second act that drags on for an eternity thanks to the introduction of a needless side character who is clearly supposed to bring both tension and comic relief, but who instead only makes one wish for a stiff, fortifying drink. The ending is especially misguided, an attempt at pathos that comes across as thumpingly moralizing and which is entirely at odds with the dark, “edgy” humor that precedes it.  If asked to speak kindly on Murder Bury Win, the technical specs are admittedly on-point, especially for such a low-budget affair. The score by Jonathan Snipes and David Rothbaum is likewise appealing, a jaunty delight beneath the inanity, but implying a good time that never arrives. All told, Murder Bury Win is, unfortunately, a losing game.


Published as part of Before We Vanish | April 2021.

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