Dead End
2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
dead end This straightforward horror movie is like a Twilight Zone episode stretched out into a feature ... without adding much subtext. It's creepy and tense, but not terribly memorable. The Harrington family are driving to Grandma's house for Christmas Eve dinner when Dad (Wise) decides for the first time to take a back-road shortcut. Mom (Shaye) is not amused, but wants everyone to have a good Christmas so just gets on with the carolling. Daughter Marion (Holden) is acting strangely preoccupied while her fiance (Asher) fends off the verbal assaults of Marion's caustic little brother (Cain). Eventually they find themselves on a long, straight road to nowhere, haunted by an eerie woman in white (Smith). Clearly, something has gone horribly wrong. And every time they stop the car one of them dies.

While the family tensions and bickering are enjoyably warped, most of the dialog is extremely corny, especially two of the characters get increasingly crazed. Until they go nuts, the actors are quite good; each has a family stereotype to play, and they do it very well indeed. But the filmmakers don't seem to have anything particularly original to say here (it's obvious what's happening from the beginning), and they seem strangely evasive about much of the sex and violence, leaving us to wonder what the film's point is. There are several blackly funny moments that liven things up--both cruelly witty gags and mordant snippets of dialog like Dad's sudden blurt: "And I thought Christmas was bad last year!" Then the script falls back on yet another tired cliche ("This reminds me of a story my grandfather used to tell me") and we're yawning again. While the film is frequently grisly, it's never remotely scary or horrific. It just seems to get increasingly silly, repetitive and meaningless by the minute. Yes, it's entertaining and never dull, but it's also fairly lazy filmmaking.

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo, violence, gore 7.Oct.03

dir-scr Jean-Baptiste Andrea, Fabrice Canepa
with Ray Wise, Alexandra Holden, Lin Shaye, Mick Cain, Billy Asher, Amber Smith, Karen Gregan, Steve Valentine, Sharon Madden, Clement Blake, Jimmy Skaggs, Ivan Kraljevic
release UK 12.Dec.03
03/US 1h25

Over the river and through the woods: Shaye, Holden, Cain and Wise...

wise holden shaye
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R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... dead end Linda, NY: 4/5 "I thought this was a good movie, considering some of the other junk that's put out these days. I was pleasantly surprised because I was expecting much less of this movie, being that it was never released in theaters here. I found the movie both scary and funny, but not 'stupid' funny, like so many other horror flicks nowadays. Rent it; it's definitely worth the 4 bucks!" (27.Dec.04)
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall