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Dead Of Winter (2007)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Director:
Brian McNamara Brian McNamara
Starring:
Al Santos Al Santos
Sandra McCoy Sandra McCoy
Brian McNamara Brian McNamara
Ella Joyce Ella Joyce
Ashley Gardner Ashley Gardner

3.9 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres / Traits: Psychological Thriller, Thriller, Weather
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Review by Chad
Added: March 30, 2012
I love winter, and I hate summer just as much as I love the cold and the snow. So, seeing that summer is just around the corner, I decided to pop in Dead of Winter for one last wintery movie to tide me over until next year. I wasn't sure what to expect as I hadn't read any reviews of it and I didn't recognize any of the names, but the plot sounded interesting and I was hoping for a little fun in front of the tube. Unfortunately, the film almost made me wish for summer to get here already.

The plot follows a pair of teenage lovers - Kevin (Al Santos) and Tiffany (Sandra McCoy) - who have graduated college at the ripe old ages of nineteen. They decide to have a big party to celebrate, and at said party, somebody slips a few drops of LSD into their drinks. Combine this with the crystal meth that they also ingested, and it would be pretty safe to say that they are tore right the hell up. They eventually leave the party, and on the way home, Kevin sees somebody sitting in the back seat. Realizing that the man is probably going to kill them, he slams on the brakes and the couple hauls ass into the nearby woods. The rest of the film deals with their attempts at thwarting a serial killer who may be real, or who may just be a figment of their drug-rattled minds.

This was a neat concept, but there is one huge problem with the way that it was handled here: it is blatantly obvious from the start that everything they are seeing is a hallucination. Maybe this was intentional and maybe it wasn't, but either way, I thought that the movie would have worked infinitely better if we were left to wonder what was really happening until the end. Instead, we get everything but a big neon sign that says "They are imagining all of this!", and that leaves us with a couple of goofy teens running through the woods and running from shadows. Think Blair Witch, without the witch.

Because we know that there is no serial killer in the woods and the only thing that they have to fear is their own imaginations, the film becomes incredibly dull early on and never really picks up. Where is the tension when we know that the big chase sequence will end with both people surviving? This isn't helped at all by the beginning of the film, a flash-forward which shows at least one of them living before popping out the old "twenty-four hours earlier" trick. How can we wonder if this person will make it through the night, when the first two minutes of the film confirms it for us?

Towards the very end of the movie, the plot begins to tread into Shining territory with one of them completely losing their mind and going into a murderous rage. This part of the story was actually pretty interesting, but unfortunately, it came way too late in the running time to save the overall product. I might even have thrown the film a bone if it was incredible or featured some sort of mind-blowing twist, but no, it was only "interesting" - a bright spot in an otherwise bad film, but by no means great. It's a step up, let's just leave it at that.

I'll give the two leading actors credit for being decent in their roles (decent - not spectacular) and I liked the idea that was driving the film, but as for the overall product? I just can't recommend it. The pacing is almost glacial at times, there is zero tension due to the way that the "is it real or is it fantasy" angle was botched, and there is absolutely nothing here that allows me to recommend it in any way. It's just a bad movie, plain and simple. 2/10.
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