Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dead End (2003)

On Christmas Eve, a family is driving to Grandma's when the dad decides to take a short cut. Soon they find themselves stalked by a woman in white and a mysterious old car, and the audience hums the Twilight Zone theme.

Scary pram

Dead End is engaging and fun, though derivative and predictable. Most viewers will guess the "twist" very early on in the movie, and nothing happens that we haven't seen before. But the characters are engagingly written, with some great mean dialogue, and the actors ham it up shamelessly. Ray Wise (Robocop, Twin Peaks) and Lin Shaye (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Critters) are particularly fun.

He's not saying what you'd think he'd say

It's a very small cast movie and mostly set either in a car or on the side of the road, but writer/directors Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa keep things chugging along at a decent pace. There's only a minimal amount of gore, and what there is tends to be played for laughs and/or pain. A nice atmosphere of isolation is maintained throughout, and the sound design have plenty of "Did I just hear that?" spooky noises.

Happy holidays!

More than anything else, Dead End is a black comedy. The dialogue is peppered with clever lines, all sold very broadly by the cast. One of the funniest scenes is gore that we DON'T get to see, when somebody needs to retrieve a cellphone from a mangled corpse.

It's for you

All in all, Dead End is an inoffensive little movie ideal for renting at Christmas to watch with the family. It's not scary or gory enough to turn most people off, and your own Christmas disasters are likely to pale next to the Harringtons'.

Written on Monday to be posted on Wednesday. Think ahead, kiddies.

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