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24 Feb 2024

NextImg:Stream It or Skip It: ‘Kill Me If You Dare’ on Netflix, a Polish comedy about spouses trying to murder each other

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Kill Me If You Dare

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A couple in a curdled marriage schemes to murder each other in Kill Me If You Dare (now on Netflix), a Polish remake of a 2019 Turkish dark comedy. Why do they want to stab each other with knives and poison each other and all that? Well, a fat lottery jackpot has something to do with it, and the fact that they don’t like each other very much helps, although I wasn’t entirely convinced they hated each other enough to be so diabolical in their scheming. That’s a problem in a movie that hinges entirely on marital discontent to drive its ramshackle story down the road to Convincingtown – or to Comedytown, as the intent seems to be. 

The Gist: It was romantic for a while – Piotr (Mateusz Banasiuk) ran out of gas and ran to the train platform to catch up with Natalia (Weronika Ksiazkiewicz) so he could propose. (Wait – isn’t that supposed to be the final scene in a rom-com? What are we watching here?) Five years later, the honeymoon is over. Dead as a doorstop. Piotr is an emotionally tone-deaf cheapskate who buys Natalia a clothes iron for their anniversary, and takes her out for a crappy meal at a food court. Meanwhile, she seems, I dunno, hard to please? Cold, maybe? Doesn’t seem to have much personality, this Natalia. These people are very… vague. Do they have any truly defining characteristics? Eh. Not really. Maybe by the end of the movie they’ll have some. (Note: They don’t, really. And I would know. I watched the entire damn thing.) Point being, this marriage, as the old bit goes, is a dead shark. 

As people do, Piotr and Natalia have jobs. She’s in advertising, working beneath sexist doofuses alongside her bestie Agata (Agnieszka Wiedlocha), who’s “wacky,” and you can tell she’s “wacky” because she dresses like she belongs in a Nine Inch Nails video ca. 1992. Piotr does something in an office, and does it matter? Not in the least. All that matters is, his ex, Dagmara (Paulina Galazka), is his boss, and she still carries a torch for him – and she gives him an anniversary gift in the form of a $3 million life insurance policy on his wife, which speaks volumes. Piotr also has a wacky bestie, Lukasz (Piotr Rogucki), and you can tell he’s wacky because he looks like he tumbled slightly drunk out of a Reverend Horton Heat concert from 1995 and then aged 20 years. One fateful day, Poitr and Natalia buy a scratch-off lottery ticket and win five million smackers, but money doesn’t solve anything. You know what they say, mo’ money, mo’ complicated scenarios that are difficult to resolve. 

And thus fulfilled is the formula for the perfect storm of anti-rom-com plots: Unhappy couple, two nutty BFFs and a plot device that encourages our protags to off each other. They take a trip to a fancy spa-resort which would be a nice place to rediscover their love cockles and tickle them and such, if they wanted to, and lord knows we have no idea what these people really want, considering they’re at the mercy of this f—ing miserable plot. But! The nutty BFFs need something to do, so they point out how the resort’s various leisure activities could be potentially lethal – long hikes in the woods, rock climbing, skydiving, all kinds of things that could lead to “accidents.” And so we get scenes involving that crap, as well as a bit where Piotr gets Natalia really drunk so she’ll slip on the suntan oil Lukasz spills on the bathroom floor, and a different bit where Agata surreptitiously slips almonds into Piotr’s pasta, which would kill him, because he’s allergic. These murder schemes are obviously 100 percent foolproof, airtight, the perfect crimes. And here we sit on pins and needles, just waiting for one of these people to die!

Photo: Netflix

What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Kill Me If You Dare is like the miscalculated mean of The War of the Roses, I Love You to Death and Marriage Story.

Performance Worth Watching: Oof. Gotta take a mulligan on this one.

Memorable Dialogue: “No more stupid ideas, and no more plan Bs!” – Piotr might be done with the homicide plans, and maybe wants to get Natalia pregnant?

Sex and Skin: None.

Our Take: For some reason, I want to refer to this movie simply as Kill Me. Not sure why. Maybe because it’s bad and I’d rather be dead than watch it again? Hyperbolic, sure, but not too far off. This is a classic case of a movie trying too hard to be funny instead of merely being funny. Mind you, “merely being funny” is easier said than done, and requires hard work: a witty screenplay with good characters, a cast with chemistry, a decent idea for a premise and maybe a surprise plot development or two. Kill Me If You Dare has none of these. The script is ice-cold rehash from the back of the fridge, the characters are as shallow as a flea’s bathtub, and the performances are passionless and uninspired. You don’t want to see Piotr or Natalia die, and you don’t want to see them rediscover their love for each other. You just want them to flutter away in a light breeze like the empty, directionless souls they are.

Director Filip Zylber seems content to execute a series of episodic cliches sloppily slung together like he’s dumping various leftovers into a frying pan for a sad lunch – it’s all in the same pile on the plate, but that doesn’t mean it’s satisfying, or that the ingredients taste OK together. Tonally, the movie is an amalgamation of sitcom and satire rendered down to a median blandness. Performances range from somnambulance to desperate mugging. We’re never convinced that our protag couple is in love, or even given an opportunity to be convinced, and we therefore remain uninvested in the outcome of their half-assed scheming. In fact, Banasiuk and Ksiazkiewicz barely seem invested in this movie beyond getting to the end of it, something you absolutely don’t have to do, thankfully.

Our Call: I dare you to get through Kill Me If You Dare. Double dog dare you. SKIP IT. 

John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.