Diagnosis: Death

Diagnosed with terminal arse cancer, Andre (Raybon Kan) and fellow cancer sufferer Juliet (Jessica Grace Smith) are sent to spend the weekend undergoing medical trials at a locked-down facility, under the watchful eye of sinister Nurse Bates. As they are pumped full of experimental drugs (or, perhaps, placebos) the pair experience a variety of horrifying visions and nightmares. Are they simply hallucinating, or are more supernatural elements at play here?

With Diagnosis: Death billed as the ‘Flight of the Conchords’ horror movie, many will no doubt be disappointed to find that the Concords hardly appear at all (and likewise, non-fans will be pleased to discover that the movie is watchable to those who can't bear the duo); hairy Jemaine Clement is relegated to a cameo at the beginning, whilst Rhys Darby is in but a paltry two scenes, book-ending the film. Bret McKenzie appears throughout, but is but a bit-player in the major scheme of things. So the ‘Flight of the Conchords movie’ doesn’t really star the Flight of the Conchords. And nor is it, as the blurb proclaims, ‘as funny as Shaun of the Dead’ or ‘as horrific as Severance’. But enough of what Diagnosis: Death isn’t. Because this is its own beast entirely.

Part J-Horror riff, part daft romcom, Diagnosis: Death is as delightfully odd as the Conchords’ equally brilliant TV sitcom. The humour is subtle and deadpan throughout, whilst the horror is slight but effective. All of the cast do fine jobs (particularly Suze Tye as the surprisingly scary – and also entirely alluring – Nurse Bates). This reviewer may have also have fallen a little bit in love with the adorable Jessica Grace Smith. Raybon Kan does a sterling job as the male lead. The movie’s real star, however, is its witty and clever script (Rhys Darby’s doctor offers the terminally ill Andre a refund if he manages to live longer than the initial prognosis).

The movie’s slightly kooky tone might not suit everyone’s tastes, however, as the emphasis tends to focus more on the growing love of Andre and Juliet, leaving some of the horror stuff to the wayside. It’s a surprisingly sweet and touching story but, indeed, the ‘ghost story’ is Diagnosis: Death’s biggest misstep. The villain’s doesn’t really seem to be much of a motive, and it’s all a bit predictable for the more jaded of viewers.

Again, the advertisements might proclaim this to be ‘horrific’ and inspired by early Peter Jackson, but there’s hardly any gore at all (apart from a couple of good gags in the latter stages), but if you can get over what Diagnosis: Death isn’t, you may just have fun with what it is.

And, while we’re at it… “Prescription: Well, nothing, you’re dead.” Best tagline. Ever.

4/5 screaming Scream Queens!!!

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