Dead End (2003)
A family making their annual Christmas pilgrimage to Grandmother's house finds their journey taking an ominous turn when they attempt to take an unfamiliar shortcut in this low-key chiller from first-time director Jean-Baptiste Andrea. For 20 years, Frank Harrington (Ray Wise) has driven the same, mind-numbingly familiar route to the annual holiday gathering, but the discovery of an unfamiliar shortcut simply proves too enticing for the loving but strained father to resist. As the road grows increasingly dark, the eerie sight of a young woman carrying a small infant sets into motion a horrific series of roadside deaths that finds the family's numbers quickly dwindling. Though there are no other travelers on the long and dark stretch of road, the appearance of a menacing black hearse seems somehow connected to the spectral woman and her child. Could it be that a vengeful entity was the previous victim of a roadside accident, returning to torment any trespasser who happens to wander down her silent stretch of road, or could the answer to the horrific mystery lie deep within the conscience of one of the few remaining family-members? … More
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Critic Reviews for Dead End
A small film like Dead End sneaks in and manages to floor pretty much everyone that's seen it.
There's great promise in Dead End, and a script that is often clever, combined with a carload of decent actors, really helps cover a multitude of flaws.
Apesar dos personagens caricaturais (principalmente o adolescente irritante), cria boa dose de suspense e conta com um final intrigante.
Audience Reviews for Dead End
Frank: Every time we've stopped, someone's gotten killed. We have to keep driving.
"Read the signs."
Dead End really isn't the terrible horror film I expected. It actually has a few well done scenes and some genuinely good ideas. So I'll admit that it isn't completely worthless. With that said, I still didn't like it. It's a really short, but somehow drawn out film. It seems like it would have played it better as a 30 minute short, but for an hour and twenty minutes, there really isn't too much there. The "Lady in White" character is terribly used when she should have been the scariest part of the film. So when what should have been the scariest part of the film isn't, that generally means it isn't going to be all that scary... and it isn't.
I will say that I liked the whole usage of the car. It was a solid element in a movie that really didn't have that much. It's definitely what I will remember about the movie in the future. Other than that, it was all largely forgettable. The acting was suspect at best, and often times just annoying. The scares were... well there weren't any.
As it is though, you could do a lot worse. This is another of those backwoods road movies. The characters are lost and for the most part really stupid with their actions. Oh, but wait for the twist which will explain everything. Another really poorly done part of the film in my opinion. It's an average entry into the backwoods genre, which means it's a below average movie. As a horror buff, I'll give just about anything a shot, so if you're like me, it isn't a total waste of time. Everyone else... skip it.
Ray Wise = "I'm in!"
This is another one that felt like a made for TV film, some good suspense but could have benefited from more scares and on screen kills.
Though as a Lynch fan I couldn't help but chuckle when "Frank's" (Ray Wise) son finds a cellphone with an ear attached and hearing "Frank" calling into the night for "Laura!!!" (his wife this time around) brought back some great memories as well.
Not horrible...a little campy a few scares a teeny bit of blood, but nothing real schocking.
Feels like I've been here before, or sometimes maybe never was....
Well, this little film drags you in different directions other than a depicted family's that seem to drive in the same direction over and over for reasons unknown yet all so clear to a certain fate. No one is devoid of this, but when it's laid out in a fashion of what could've been or what may be, all bets are off.
In this one, a family is on their way to a Christmastime celebration with more family on a route that begs to differ with a sense of reason or clarity. The pent-up feeling of frustration and fear of being lost combines with other horrific events making this truly a holiday season this family will never forget; or never remember for that matter.
In a genre gone stale, with repetitive plot elements, cheap thrills, gimmicks and make-up effects and in most cases the entire meaning of the word "horror" changed with the emergence of countless, boring slasher-horror flicks and torture-porn horror, once in a while we come across noteworthy gems like "Dead End", that give us some welcome relief from the sameness!
This film is a little hidden indie gem that resurrects good old fashioned 'atmospheric' horror. So what we have is a premise that is a blend of some classic ghost stories (the kind your grandma may have narrated to you in your childhood and passed it off as a "true story" to scare the living daylights out of you), with a little garnishing of modern horror, but one that relies on atmosphere and the gravity of the predicament that the lead characters are in rather than resorting to excessive gore that only invokes a feeling of disgust or guilty pleasure rather than true horror.
"Dead End" tells the nightmarish story of the Harrington family (Mr and Mrs Harrington along with their son, daughter and would-be-son-in-law) who are on their way to Mrs Harrington's mother's place to celebrate Christmas. Their journey is a long one, a road trip and for some reason they prefer to keep traveling by night (probably for the sake of the story). The road is dreadfully lonely but it is seemingly normal, 'cause it's Christmas and everyone is spending time with their families at home. Very soon the Harringtons start encountering strange happenings which seem to have neither any explanation nor any end....
In "Dead End", directors and screenwriters Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa try to keep the jump-scare and gore quotient to the minimum and rely on the tense situation of a family trapped in an unfortunate series of events in a lonesome car journey on a frighteningly empty road. "Dead End" is not entirely devoid of the jack-in-the-box scares and the bloodshed, but they are restrained and very few and far between which makes this film more watchable than other newfangled horror flicks. The directors duo also keep the length of the film considerably short, at about 80 minutes. They also throw in some subtle twists in the narrative to prevent it from slipping into monotony. These twists are in no way forced or exaggerated and are smoothly interspersed in the story right up to its unforgettable ending.
Moreover, the characters they have created are very real and someone you can relate to; so you really feel for them and their harrowing experience during that fateful night. This could very well be a typical family living right next door to you. The acting from all of the cast is amazing and they do a very convincing job. Mick Cain plays the bratty teenage boy with ease. Alexandra Holden is excellent as Marion, his sister who also happens to be a student psychiatrist. Lin Shaye delivers a superb performance as the mother of the kids. Steve Valentine, Amber Smith and Billy Asher appear briefly and don't have much to do. The acting department is ruled by Ray Wise though. Anyone familiar with David Lynch's "Twin Peaks" would know what a fine performer he is. In this film he is no less in terms of sheer quality of acting and outshines them all.
Alexander Buono's cinematography is excellent. Some of the scenes are breathtakingly shot, particularly the aerial view of the car traveling on a road flanked entirely by deep, dark woods. The moving car in the center is visible only because of the long range of its headlights. The original music by Greg De Belles invokes that unnerving feeling of doom and fits beautifully as it switches between 'ghostly' and melancholic! The sound effects design is done extremely well and complements the chilling feel of the silent, deadly night.
But Jean-Baptiste's film isn't entirely perfect. On a couple of occasions, he manages to ruin some of the more tense scenes by including some stupid dialog! This considerably mars the intended effect and these moments come off as unintentionally funny. Then there is some unnecessary and lame humour sprinkled about, probably for comic relief but it doesn't really help and just wasn't required. Then there is that other signature con of any horror film where the characters have to take the stupidest decisions ever in moments of crisis instead of choosing the more practical one.
Minor hiccups apart, as far as recent horror films are concerned, "Dead End" is certainly a good watch and definitely a cut above what has now become "conventional" horror. For best effect, watch it alone, at night, in the dark...
Dead End Quotes
- Look, I made a drawing of Brad. This was his leg that was hanging out.
- I know this is the season of giving, but I just don't give a fuck!
- Maybe the North Star doesn't indicate north. Maybe the map maker was drunk. Maybe the moon's made out of cheese. Who knows? Everything is so fucked up on this goddamn road!
- Richard, drag his body off to the side of the road.
- Jesus, what do I look like? Your fu*king janitor?
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