Dead End

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The ViewDunedin Review

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Review byMatthew Turner25/11/2003


Three out of Five stars
Running time: 85 mins

Standard horror fare, enlivened by a witty script and a good performance from Ray Wise.

Despite a long career as a character actor, Ray Wise is still best remembered for his astonishing role as Leland Palmer (Laura’s dad) in Twin Peaks. Belatedly, he appears to have decided to cash in on his iconic horror status and Dead End is the second of two recent horror flicks to capitalise on his talents. (The other is the decidedly rubbish Jeepers Creepers 2 and Wise and his Big Old Harpoon were the best things in it by a country mile).

Family Get-Together Fails To Materialise

Co-written and co-directed by first-time French directors Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa, Dead End takes place on Christmas Eve and stars Ray Wise as family man Frank Harrington, who is driving his wife Marion (Lin Shaye) and two kids, stoner brat Richard (Mick Cain) and gorgeous Daddy’s girl Laura (Drop Dead Gorgeous), to a family get-together at his in-laws’ house.

However, after deciding to take a short cut along a forest road, things start to seem odd when the town mentioned on the road signs never seems to get any closer.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the appearance on the road of a mysterious woman in white sets off a chain of increasingly nasty events…

Predictable But Creepy

The acting is excellent. Ray Wise has his beleaguered, slightly creepy family man act down pat by now and it’s put to good use here. Holden is good, too, and almost certainly has a bigger career ahead of her – at the moment, she’s best known as Bruce Willis’ Daughter Who Dated Ross in Friends.

It’s also nice to see Lin Shaye doing something other than be memorably repulsive in Farrelly Brothers movies and Mick Cain can presumably expect the offers of Stoner Teen Brat parts to now come flooding in, since the dark, witty script gives him most of the best lines.

The story is somewhat hampered by having a plot that will only come as a surprise to someone who has never seen a horror movie before. In addition, the effective ‘lost in the forest’ element was exploited much better by this year’s Wrong Turn – indeed, some of the shots of the long straight road through the forest could almost have been lifted directly.

That said, it’s genuinely creepy in places and is a perfectly watchable, if entirely predictable little shocker. Worth seeing, at least until Wrong Turn comes out on video.

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Content updated: 25/06/2019 07:45

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