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Dead End (2003)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Genres:
Horror, Supernatural Horror
Directors:
Jean-Baptiste Andrea Jean-Baptiste Andrea
Fabrice Canepa Fabrice Canepa
Starring:
Ray Wise Ray Wise
Lin Shaye Lin Shaye
Mick Cain Mick Cain
Alexandra Holden Alexandra Holden
William Rosenfeld William Rosenfeld
User Lists:
> Holiday: Christmas

6.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: March 20, 2005
To avoid taking the familiar and dull route to his mother-in-law's house for Christmas, Frank (Ray Wise) decides to take a shortcut down a back-road. Needless to say, his incessantly nagging wife Laura (Lin Shaye) isn't too happy with the idea. Accompanying this dysfunctional pair on the trip are their son Richard (Mick Cain) and daughter Marion (Alexandra Holden), who has her jock boyfriend Brad (Billy Asher) tagging along with them. All is going as well as one could hope for when driving down a deserted road in the dead of night with a nagging female in the passenger's seat, until they spot a lady dressed in white (Amber Smith) standing on the side of the road. They stop to pick her up, but she seems to be in a state of shock. Frank decides to turn around and take her back to a cabin that he spotted a few miles back, with the assumption that their would be a phone in the building. When the family arrives at the cabin, everyone with the exception of Brad and the lady in white get out of the car to stretch their legs and investigate the cabin. When they return, Brad and the mystery lady have vanished... however, Marion swears that she saw him trapped in the back of a black hearse that drove by while everyone else was out searching the woods for him. The now-nervous group get in their car to chase down this hearse, and after driving for a few miles, they find his mutilated corpse laying on the road. As the family makes their way down this deserted road in search of the police, or a hospital, or their mother-in-law's house, or any sign of civilization whatsoever, the lady in white shows up again and again...

I've heard a lot of praise being heaped upon this movie, but I personally wasn't quite sure about what to expect due to the fact that at a glance, the plot seems to be decent at best. Then, I sat through the first twenty minutes and realized how much of a turd this movie was going to be. We have Richard popping out nonstop, lame one-liners in an attempt to be funny, we've got a nice dose of bad, eighties sounding metal layered over top of the movie, and performances by our lead characters that would make a critic sit down and cry due to the awful abilities put forth by this cast. There's the sappy romance between Marion and her husband-to-be Brad, the fighting between Brad and Richard, all of which leads up to Marion doubting whether or not the relationship will work out. Yawn.

Then, the movie shifts gears. Whereas those first twenty minutes make the movie seem like it's going to be a waste of time, everything from there on out transforms into one of the greatest horror films that I have seen to date. The romance angle comes to an abrupt end when Brad is found torn to pieces. That crappy metal music that was so predominant? Gone, and replaced with a score that perfectly sets the tone for one hell of a creep-out film. The acting abilities jump up into the excellent category, the storyline is delivered fast and furious, and the whole film turns around from a teen drama yawn-fest into one excellently crafted horror film. While the opening scenes and character development could have used some work, the movie viewed in its entirety is one film that horror fans should not miss.

Most of the movie takes place inside Frank's vehicle, and all of the movie takes place on a deserted road. In most cases, one would think that this would result in boredom due to a lack of environment changes; however, that is certainly not the case here. The atmosphere that is built up both inside the vehicle and on the road is beyond words, and the tone of the movie is that something could happen at any time... and it usually does. However, this isn't one of those movies that use constant false-scares to build up the mood; sure, there's one or two to be found in the early stages of the movie, but once things get going, the motivation behind the movie is to keep throwing bizarre shit out at the audience and build up the scare factor as far as possible. Once you get into the movie, it succeeds in building up that scare factor quite high. Films that turn out to be this good are very few and far between, so if you're a fan of horror at all, I implore you to give this one a viewing. You will not regret it.

Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa, who handled both the writing and directing of this film, have a bright future ahead of them in the movie business. This was the first film to be written or directed by either man, so if their debut movie was this good, I for one can not wait to see what they come up with next. This one deserves a 10/10, easily.
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bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 08/22/2005, 08:00 AM
Just caught this film on cable and thought it was very creative...more so than I would have ever expected. This was a well-made horror film, with some fine performances from Ray Wise and the underrated Lin Shaye. I recommend this to anyone who wants to be surprised.
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #2: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 03/29/2006, 03:49 AM
Meh... I didn't enjoy this movie at all. I liked the concept when the film finally wrapped up but the acting was pretty poopy, the filling and deliverance of scenes was half-assed, certain parts we're pretty stupid in afterthought and also went on for a bit longer than they should have.
5.9/10
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