Director - Jean-Baptiste Andrea,
Fabrice Canepa

Year - (2003)

Ghost stories have always been rough territory for me. Honestly, I can handle the scary thought of vampires, werewolves, zombies, devils, knife wielding dolls and any other assortment of horror movie monsters. Ghosts, however, are my own personal fear,simply because theres no way to kill them. If you live in a house thats inhabited you get the hell out. If you see a ghost hitchhiker, keep driving. Theres simply no reasoning with an undead spirit who has nothing better to do than make the walls bleed or steal little girls into the television. The fact that ghosts abide by no rules, adds to the helplessness and fear, which is present in any good ghost movie.

Overall, I felt the movie fell short on a aspects, mostly due to a script full of holes and some overused clich�s. However, Dead End was a great little reminder of why I am afraid of ghosts. Moreover, despite a weak final act, this is the cruelest kind of Twilight Zone episode youd ever come across.

Like I said earlier, the ghost story clich�s are present including the ominous forest, a lady in white holding a baby, and a mysterious black 57 Buick, representing Death cruising for souls. What struck me, however, were the characters stuck in this extremely messed up situation.

Our main characters, a family rushing to get to a Christmas dinner represents a very realistic family dynamic. You have the patriarch Frank, played by the underrated character actor, Ray Wise. Its father Frank who decides to take that ill-fated shortcut to the Christmas dinner after driving the same route for twenty years. Franks wife, Laura (Lin Shaye), represents the sheltered and soft-spoken wife. Its her resentment of her husband that comes out when the characters begin to realize they might die. Unknown actor Mick Cain, fills the role of the pot-smoking, misunderstood and angry teenage son. Cain has the best lines in the movie, but his character is riddled with clich�s of the angry teenager, including a love for Marilyn Manson music. The best work, however, comes from Alexandra Holden, playing the eldest daughter Marion. The fact that she wants to break up with her boyfriend, Brad, who is actually planning on proposing to her later that night adds an interesting little bit of drama. Her character as a budding psychologists helps to keep the other members sane, but at one point during the movie, she does go catatonic. It is a great performance from her, simply because when she does snap out of it, she represents the real backbone of the movie.

As I said the characters were realistic, however, what made them better were their interactions when the scary stuff starts happening. Secrets and demons long buried come out, as each of the characters lash out at each other while under that kind of stress. Its up to poor Marion to keep the family together.

As for the horror aspect, the films relatively low budget showed. But only in the sense that the directors elected to not show the graphic deaths, instead leading with a eerie build up, but finishing with a sort of anticlimax for each characters demise. It was that creepiness and atmosphere that sold me on the ghost aspect, with some clever little moments of creative scriptwriting. One little scene, for example, has the mother Laura, whos completely gone loony by this time, claiming to wave at all the people in the forest as they drive by. Why are they all so sad? Oh, look theres my friend. Can we stop so I can say hello? It was later revealed that the said friend had died a few years earlier, so we never really know if it was ghosts she was seeing or just her own warped mind.

What I said earlier about The Twilight Zone was accurate, since on this never-ending road, Frank drives past familiar landmarks more than once, and when they try to leave the car and escape to the forest, they simply end up back on the highway. Also, much like The Twilight Zone episode, the conclusion was out of the blue. It wasnt a good one though. I wont spoil the ending, but the conclusion was weak.

Overall, Dead End was a welcome addition to the ghost story genre. It did what it was supposed to do, making me a little bit scared to step outside. Despite some all too familiar plot devices and a poor final act, its worth a rental. I always said that if I like the characters, Id enjoy the movie more, even if they have to die one by one. Some might like it more than others, but I wont find myself rushing to buy it.

Reviewed By - Evil Ash

Rating ( 3 of 5 )



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