APRIL 8, 2008
Two goddamn full frame movies in a row! This is unacceptable! (It’s also the 2nd movie in the past few days to be adorned with a quote from B-D). Though, take the good with the bad – Dead End was distributed by Lions Gate long before they became the bane of the home video world, which means that while we have to suffer through a full frame transfer, we do NOT have to suffer through 18 trailers for truly awful movies like The Eye or whatever.
And the movie is pretty good. The cast is a big part of its success; few can pull off darkly humorous hysteria like Lin Shaye and Ray Wise, and the kid playing their son is pretty good as well (if overly, and randomly, homophobic – of all the people in the car who’s definitely NOT gay, it’s his sister's boyfriend, yet he consistently alludes to him being a homosexual). With a less capable cast, this one would probably be a giant bore, but Wise and Shaye keep you entertained with their off kilter reactions and dry delivery. At one point, Shaye, who is going a bit crazy after the death of her son, draws a picture of her daughter’s boyfriend, who was found dismembered all over the road, and shows it to her:
It also doesn’t feel too padded, which it easily could since the movie is essentially four people in a car driving on a road without an exit. Unlike the similar Wind Chill, writer/directors Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa had the good sense to keep the movie moving along, make the characters somewhat likable, and consistently seek ways to keep the movie from becoming too much of a Moebius strip, even when at its core that is precisely what it is. Nice job.
Alexandra Holden is also in the movie, as the daughter (once again, she plays the daughter of two genre faves that don’t resemble her at all, a fact written into the plot). She’s pretty much the only character who never made me laugh, which is a bummer. Oh well, still hot.
The theme of the movie appears to be dirty secrets – everyone eventually reveals something about their past that comes as a shock to everyone else – Holden is pregnant, Shaye had an affair, etc. It’s a nice idea but I would have liked to have seen it worked into the finale, which (spoiler) is merely a decent twist on the ‘it was all a dream’ ending. It was all a dream, yes, but everyone else is STILL dead, which is a plus. Makes it easier to swallow (the underrated Reeker had a similar denouement). However, this presents a few holes, or at least provides some genuinely disturbing information about the surviving character. There’s a scene in the movie in which the brother goes off into the woods to jerk off. But if this was all one of his family member’s hallucination, why the fuck would they be imagining that?
All in all, a decent little movie that deserves a better DVD (in addition to the shitty video, the sound is merely stereo) . Region 2’s release is widescreen, with a few extras to boot. If you can watch R2, I urge you avoid the region 1 disc. Had I watched it at night instead of 11 am, it’d probably be even more effective, as it’s the type of low-budget creepfest that would scare me as a kid when I’d watch them when it was dark and everyone was in bed. Watch it in the dark, folks!I'd also like to point out that this is the 3rd "Dead End" film in HMAD history, following Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, and Dood Eind (aka Dead End). How many more will there be? Call now and vote!
What say you?