December 7, 2011

Eyes on Christmas: Dead End

The early days of this year's Christmas marathon have certainly proven to be an odd bunch. You see, this is what happens when you don't give it any hard planning and play it by ear as you go along. Day one featured a film that equated holiday commercialism with drug addiction, day two was an uber bizarre holiday fable from Mexico, and day three has delivered a movie that for intents and purposes should not be considered a Christmas movie. However, I am employing a rather broad definition for a Christmas movie, therefore it counts.

The movie is a horror movie with a strong Twilight Zone feel. It is called Dead End, if you don't think that sounds like a suitable holiday feature, you would be right. The holiday connection is tenuous at best, but here it is: the family is heading to grandma's house on Christmas Eve for dinner. That about sums it up. So, while this may not be a good example of a Christmas movie, it is a good example of a creepy horror movie that seems to have flown under the radar, yet is of surprisingly high quality. Seriously, this is a solid film that if you miss it, you are missing out.

The story follows the Harrington family, Frank (Ray Wise), Laura (Lin Shaye), son Richard (Mick Cain), daughter Marion (Alexandra Holden), and her boyfriend Brad (Billy Asher). They are making the trip to Laura's parents for the holiday and for the first time in twenty years Frank decides to take a different route, a choice made while everyone was sleeping and could not protest. This proves to be a bad decision and following a near crash when Frank dozes off, we begin to find out just how bad an idea it was.

This is about all the detail you really need. Generally speaking, the fewer known specifics, the better it is. There is a bit more I can reveal, but most of it should be experienced as you watch. The first sign that things are going to go horribly wrong is when a lady in white shows up having apparently suffered some sort of trauma and in need of help. They help her, but then things start to get even worse.

I will leave the rest to you to find in the movie. What I can say is that this is a solidly written, acted, and executed film. It has limited sets and locations and involves the characters interacting a lot. It is written in a way that actually made me care about them. Secrets are revealed, feelings change and evolve, and the solid presence of Wise and Shaye keeps everything rolling.

There is humor to be found, not just of the tension relief variety. Much of the humor is derived from the characters and it works very nicely. On top of that, there is some decent use of blood and gore. It all combines in a nice melange of atmosphere and character.

It may not be much of a Christmas movie, but it is a solid horror movie that shouldn't be overlooked.


Related Posts with Thumbnails


Post a Comment