Dead End

Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: Ray Wise, Alexandra Holden, Lin Shaye, Mick Cain, Amber Smith
Directors: Jean-Baptiste Andrea, Fabrice Canepa

It seems that my friends here at PHASE9 like to send Dr Kuma to films that have a cult appeal. In fact, this is the word that crops up in more of my reviews than any other. So, it was no surprise that upon reading the synopsis of this movie it said that this was already a cult film. Great, I love cult films (there you go I’ve said it three times already) but I think the term is being used too freely these days. THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, THE BLUES BROTHERS, KISS ME DEADLY, they are real cult movies, this offering I’m afraid is not, although it’s obvious that’s what the filmmakers have set out to do. It seems that this ‘cult’ tag has been given to it by the makers themselves. The synopsis I read said, “stay through the end credits for a real shock”. This whetted my appetite for what I’d hoped would be a new found ‘cult’ (term copyright Dr Kuma PHASE9) film. To my surprise, what I did find was a variation of a short story I had written years ago. I couldn’t believe it. There on the screen was an idea I’d incorporated into a short story called “Light At The End Of The Tunnel”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a simple premise that most short story writers have probably tackled, this is just someone else’s version of the same idea. When I wrote my short story I didn’t think it good enough to show anyone bar one agent who thought it was too simple. DEAD END is far simpler than my draft, which is surprising in two ways: a) that this script wasn’t tightened up and improved and b) I’m going to tell that agent that a variation of that ‘simple’ story has been made but really buggered up after getting a green light and send her to see it, just for a laugh (although there are few of those in this script – even the title’s simpler than mine – but probably better. You can probably guess what it’s about by those two titles alone).

The official synopsis for the movies goes thus:
For the past 20 years, Frank Harrington has grudgingly driven his family to celebrate Christmas with his mother-in-law. This year, he takes a shortcut. It’s the biggest mistake of his life: The nightmare begins. A mysterious woman in white wanders through the forest, leaving death in her wake. A terrifying black car – its driver invisible – carries the victims into the heart of the night. Every road sign points to a destination they never reach. The survivors succumb to panic, to madness; deeply buried secrets burst to the surface, and Christmas turns into a living hell.

All in all this is just an extended episode of THE OUTER LIMITS or THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Anyone who can’t see where this movie is going should a) get out more or b) write to Dr Kuma at PHASE9 for his variation on the theme. Because of the stories similarity it made me want to stay till the end to see how subtly the ‘twist’ in the story was conveyed. It was as subtle as a brick. Ok now, we here at PHASE9 believe it’s best to save our readers time. We did this with FREDDY VS JASON and we’ll do it here. The ending as I say, didn’t surprise but the twist after the title was a shock. About 30 seconds into the end titles we have an added scene that you should stay around for (although really, it just makes the whole thing more confusing), but don’t bother staying till the very end of the credits like it says on the net. The last thing on the credits says “Bless you for staying to the end of the credits! Wow you really do like going to the movies”. This pissed me off at first because I’d missed my train waiting till the bitter end after biting the carrot left on the internet I mentioned earlier, but really, in hindsight, this is quite amusing and shows more thought than the whole script put together. Hang on, does that mean that I’m saying my short story isn’t very good as well? Not really, but I think I’ll say I wrote it in school, just to make myself feel better that it wasn’t as original as I thought.

Dr Kuma’s verdict: As the Talking Heads once said “This is a road to nowhere” and bar a few good moments, the script, like the car, runs out of gas. Still at least it tries to be clever, but there aren’t enough twists in the road to keep you focused.

3 out of 6 stars

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