DEAD END. (2003) WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY JEAN-BAPTISTE AND FABRICE CANEPA. STARRING LIN SHAYE, RAY WISE, ALEXANDRA HOLDEN, AMBER SMITH, MICK CAINE AND BILLY ASHER.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
This is a really excellent horror film starring the lovely Lin Shaye from the INSIDIOUS movies. She’s so cuddly and mumsy in this one, as the Harrington family travel in the dark one Christmas Eve to Grandma’s house. Lin Shaye plays the mum Laura, and Ray Wise (TWIN PEAKS, JEEPERS CREEPERS 2) is the grumpy dad, Frank.
Mom is clutching the Christmas pie that she traditionally bakes every year to bring to Grandma’s house. The presents for Mom’s family are all neatly wrapped and stored in the boot of the car. One of them is going to come in handy, very handy indeed, in fact, for the ordeal ahead.
What is it, I hear you ask me eagerly? A pair of hand-knitted socks for Mom’s brother? A shawl for Grandma? A box of bath salts or a year’s subscription to THE NEW YORKER? Could you beat an unseen killer to death with any of the above? Och, I’ll never tell…!
Dad would prefer to be anywhere other than where he is right now, but guess what? Tough titty. It’s Christmas Eve, lol, and Christmas Eve is for driving your wife and kids to your wife’s mother’s house, whether you damned well want to or not. Suck it up, Frankie baby, suck it up,
In the car also are their attractive psychiatry student daughter Marion and her boyfriend, Brad Miller, and also their teenage son Richard. Richard has a typically bad teenage attitude.
He listens to Marilyn Manson, smokes pot, masturbates to nudie girlie porn, has a foul mouth on him and a real grudge against his family. There is nothing strange about any one of these qualities. It’s merely the teenage condition. With any luck, he’ll grow out of it, lol. Just give him a few years. Say twenty, twenty-five, tops…!
Marion’s boyfriend Brad is planning on popping the question to Marion when they get to Grandma’s house. But Marion is planning to dump the poor guy, even though she’s hugging a very important secret to herself, the kind that would normally bring a couple closer together. But it’s Marion’s decision, and anyway, the guy is a long streak of misery who clearly isn’t bringing her happiness. Bin him, I say. Bin that man. She can do better.
Mom and Dad definitely have their problems, issues and secrets too, which all come out during the night as they take the journey from hell to Grandma’s place. While the family have all nodded off in the car, Dad unwisely chooses to take a mad ‘short cut’ through the dense, dark forest instead of the respectable Inter-state road they’ve taken to Grandma’s house for donkey’s years. It’s the worst decision he’ll ever make. The nagging alone he’ll come in for just isn’t even worth it.
As they motor on through the terrifyingly dark scary woods, they don’t meet a single other car going in any direction. They do, however, stop to pick up a beautiful young blonde woman dressed in white and clutching a baby, and this proves to be the second worst idea Dad’s ever had, after choosing to take the ‘short cut’ in the first place. The woman is the harbinger of death, and everything she touches turns to cold, clammy death.
The black funeral car that accompanies her spooky appearances puts me in mind of two excellent films from 1975 and 1980 respectively, BURNT OFFERINGS and THE HEARSE.
Lin Shaye as the mom is by turns brilliant and hilariously funny as shock forces long-buried secrets out of her and she acquires the frightening ability, seemingly, to ‘see dead people.’
Her star turns with the pie and her drawing of her dead son are oozing with the blackest of black humour, just like the pie itself is oozing with some kind of black gooey stuff. She really is a remarkable actress, as suited to family drama as to grim horror.
It’s also so funny the way she blabs Dad’s dirty little secrets too, and not just her own. This journey from hell is clearly bringing out the worst in the members of the Harrington family. The death toll mounts and the shocks just keep coming as the so-called ‘short cut through the forest’ never takes the family one iota closer to their destination.
I’m not quite sure about the ending. I’ve watched it a few times now and it still jars a little bit, even though I can tell that it’s actually quite clever. See what you think yourselves, anyway. This Christmas horror film is still a terrifically tense, wickedly funny nail-biting watch. Make sure you catch it.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
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