View Full Version : Dead End- R2 UK DVD... my review

05-23-2004, 11:36 AM
In Dead End, Frank and Laura are driving their family to Laura's mother's house on Christmas Eve to spend the holidays together. Along with them, there's their obnoxious son, Richard, their sweet psychiatrist daughter, Marion, and her prep boyfriend, Brad. Frank decides to take a shortcut through the unfamiliar back roads for a change, and it turns out to be the biggest mistake of his life, as they are all thrust into hell on earth as they travel down an unending road of terror.

Dead End is a film I'd heard some very positive buzz for, and the premise intrigued the hell out of me, as did the casting of favorite, Ray Wise in the lead role of Frank. I decided to do everything in my power to see the film immediately, and when I finally did, I was blown away.

The film is severly creepy, and during my two viewings to date, my nerves were very much on end. There are several bizarre and frightening occurences throughout, as well as some stellar utilization of the fear of the unknown. From unnerving sounds on the radio to clocks that stop at the same time, we never know exactly what the hell is going on, and the characters come up with some theories that add to the turning wheels in the viewer's already creeped out imagination. At one point Laura, who's losing it, mentions that she sees dead people all in the woods surrounding the road, and along with her delivery of the line, seeing how she says such right out of the blue after seriously discussing her marriage with Frank, its quite funny, yet still very creepy despite the fact that she's been losing it, because after all the crazy shit that's already happened, its very possible that there are dead people in the woods. We never see them, nor do the other characters, and its just one of many great instances of the fear of the unknown in this film.

The film also has a very sly sense of dark humor. Both the humorous and the frightening aspects of the film blend together perfectly, and none of the several hilarious moments take aways one ounce of the fear or tension that the film is drenched in. Most of the humor has to do with the dysfunctional nature of their family, and the film is very dialogue driven with a good portion of the running time taking place inside their automobile. This is not a problem at all though, as the dialogue is very well written, very tense, very funny, and the sequences in the vehicle are never the least bit boring. The humor is very dark, and I loved every bit of it.

The ending also leaves things open to interpretation, which I appreciate since I didn't like where the film seemed to be headed towards the end. The open ending allows for a much more pleasing interpretation on my part.

The acting is superb on all fronts, and the inimitable Wise seems to be having a field day in his role of Frank. His constant annoyance with his family comes across very well, and is quite humorous, and then when things get bad, his fall into overwhelming emotions and despair is extremely believable and compelling. Alexandra Holden is also perfection, not to mention suitably sweet as Marion. She has a nice innocent, yet troubled vibe, and is quite likable. Lin Shaye is wonderfully wacky as Laura. Her descent into madness is a joy to watch, because she's so damn good at acting hilariously insane. Mick Caine is good as the arrogant and obnoxious Richard, Billy Asher is fine in his limited screen time as Brad, and Amber Smith is the perfect combo of mysterious creepiness and major hottness as the lady in white, the entity who is a major factor in the events taking place.

The night time cinematograpy is fabulous, and the editing, especially the parts showing the passage of time while driving, is even better. There is also a very suitable and moody score that perfectly compliments a few scenes, as well as some well utilized rock.

Dead End is a truly amazing film, and instantly became a new favorite of mine after my first viewing. Frightening, funny, tense, bizarre, engrossing, and really well acted, its all those things and more!

This DVD is presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 1:85.1, and is anamorphic. The transfer is excellent with wonderful detail. There's a small speck of grain or two every now and then, but nothing very noticeable, and its very rare. Very pleased with this transfer! The 5.1 audio is nice and crisp, and sounds fine. Also, this DVD is the full uncut version unlike the R3 DVD.

There are two deleted scenes with introductions by the two directors. They are definitely interesting, but not big losses.

The making of Dead End featurette is very interesting, and explores how two directors who'd never made a film got the opportunity to make this gem. Good featurette, and definitely not a fluff piece.

Rounding out the disc are a theatrical trailer and three teasers.

A wonderful disc for a truly remarkable indie horror film! A huge improvement over the R3, and I'm very happy to have a good version of this favorite on DVD!

05-23-2004, 11:47 AM
This sounds Interesting. I'll keep an eye out for that disc at the next convention. Thanks for the great review Cujo.

05-23-2004, 02:23 PM
i personally hated this film. the acting was piss poor. the dialogue was worse and the ending was awfull.

05-28-2004, 09:22 PM
This is available at xploited cinema now. Might pick it up. :)

05-29-2004, 08:28 AM
Awesome review. Yeah, I was curious about this one. It sounds pretty good, but I am getting a Blair Witch vibe from the description, and I am not quite a supporter of that film. But Dead End sounds like a well executed version of it so I might be cool with this.

05-29-2004, 12:14 PM
I need to read more about the plot - you write "the premise intrigued the hell out of me" - but the only premise I understood from the review is that a group of people take a short cut while on a trip. Is there more?

It's a well written review though, and I enjoyed reading it :)

Thumbs up!

05-30-2004, 01:36 AM
Nice Review Cujo - Sounds Great...

Will defo give this a nights rental from my local video store.

06-09-2004, 03:57 AM
I watched this last night, and annoying ads at the start of the dvd aside, I thought the dvd was pretty good quality. The story was pretty transparent though; I didn't see it as a surprise at all. Also, I got to say

that the family in this movie was one of the most annoying families to ever grace a film. Not since The Hills Have Eyes has a family been more in need of killin'. They were endlessly annoying and terribly, horribly stupid. It was hard to be scared of the force that was stalking them when, by getting rid of these goons, it was clearly making the world a better place. I can't say I was scared for a single moment in this whole movie.

11-06-2004, 06:05 PM
The film is severly creepy, and during my two viewings to date, my nerves were very much on end. There are several bizarre and frightening occurences throughout, as well as some stellar utilization of the fear of the unknown.Are you sure about this? :D ;)

Um, this wasn't really a scary horror film even though they included a few mild jump scares - it's a "black" comedy never to be taken seriously ... with an ending I smelled a million miles away.

Dead End has some very brief entertaining moments, but almost everything about this movie seemed so damn familiar :sleepy:

I did kinda enjoyed the cast - before they went nuts and started to suck.

11-07-2004, 05:52 PM
I enjoyed it because great Ray Wise and funny dialogues, they really remind me my family :)