Dead End (2003) Movie Review
Written By: TJ
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Jean-Baptiste Andrea, Fabrice Canepa
Producers: James Huth
Writers: Jean-Baptiste Andrea, Fabrice Canepa
Date Released: December 12, 2003
Ray Wise as Frank Harrington
Lin Shaye as Laura Harrington
Alexandra Holden as Marion Harrington
Mick Cain as Richard Harrington
Amber Smith as Lady in White
Billy Asher as Brad Miller
Steve Valentine as Man in Black
Rating: 3.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
With the whole family on the way to celebrate Christmas at his wife’s parents, Frank Harrington (Ray Wise) decides to take a shortcut so as not to fall asleep. However, drowsiness being stronger, Frank snoozes off and nearly hit another car on the road. Now fully awake, he notices a lady in white carrying a baby somewhere in the woods on his peripheral vision. He stops and let the strange woman in their car and takes her back to the cabin they passed by earlier. While everyone is out checking the cabin, his daughter’s boyfriend, tries to talk to the woman and ask her what happened to her. She doesn’t respond at first, but when she does, she lets him hold her baby and that’s when everything gets stranger. When the boyfriend takes off the blanket covering the face, he screams his heart out and that’s when the first kill begins.
Dead End (2003) has not enough gore and it never shows you anything that’s stomach-churning, but if you have a wild imagination then it will scare the wits out of you and that’s what make this film interesting. It will give you just parts of something bloody like a cut ear and burned hands and you just let your mind do the work. The most gory and probably disgusting scene you could get out of this film is when the mother touch his bleeding head and had an orgasm doing it. For a low-budget film, this production can be creative and resourceful in executing the scares. It’s a fun little spine chiller with some very cool moments, yet manages to keep the fair amount of gore under control.
The Grave Review
On the outset, almost everything about Dead End (2003) seems dead crappy. When this film started I thought, “this is just going to be another slasher film with the same formula of people trapped in a car and being killed”. But Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa basically have something else in mind. This film is a perfect example of what you can do with low-budget cast and countable locations.
What makes this kind of films strong is the script. Since we cannot rely much on other aspects besides characters and story, it is best to scrutinize the dialogues. The writers give the cast great lines to read, thus creating essence to each character and staying grounded to what is real. With just words, we’ve been told a complete story from past to future without the help of flashbacks or other grandiose scenes. We’ve learned that Frank and his wife are on the verge of humdrum marriage and that Frank has been cheated on, we’ve also learned that Richard looks up to his sister ever since they were kids, and so on, you get the idea. What I’m trying to say is that this film isn’t just to scare, but to make its viewers feel the characters’ emotions.
Dead End is inspired not to fill the car with swinging teens, but used a mixture of youngsters, and shall we say, more mature citizens. The cast has an on screen chemistry that makes them look like a real family. Ray Wise being our main man, has given a great performance with just the right blend of angst, authority, and humor. It was when he tells his daughter about the man that his wife is seeing that I admire him the most. You can see the contained pain for a long time through his eyes. Lin Shaye as his wife also gave her best in portraying a mother figure from the start and turning into a traumatized woman who has just seen her mutilated son. This film just proves that you don’t need computer-generated imagery and a million dollars to make a good one.
What I don’t like about Dead End is the camera shots are too dim, or let’s say, the cinematography as a whole needs more lighting. However, it was saved by the sound effects and the creepy musical theme that I should also mention. Another criticism is that it was never explained what happened to the lady in white and what is the man in black’s actual purpose to the story? Why is he killing? For me, if has a failed ending but it was all fun and entertaining to say the least.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Dead End (2003) three and a half graves out of five graves.
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