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Dead End (2003)

'Dead End' is a 2003 horror movie directed by Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Capepa, that centers around a dysfunctional family as they find themselves on a never ending road during an annual cross country drive to visit family on Christmas Eve night.

The first half of this movie was an effort to get through I'll be honest, the movie has no idea what lane it is driving in (pun intended). The tone and direction is very inconsistent, with eccentric performances from all cast members that seem as though they are a parody of themselves, whist consistently making infuriating decisions along the way. Then add to that an off brand intersected humour that comes across as though it belongs in a teen comedy, makes this unbalanced set up jarring for the audience. Thankfully, it does find its footing and becomes a more engaging and a more purposefully horror story about 30 minutes in that I genuinely found quite thrilling.

The casting features a notable cast that I feel are very underutilised throughout this film. With Ray Wise and Lin Shaye at the forefront, both of whom have delivered incredible performance throughout their long spanning career. Unfortunately, the pair give some of the wonkiest performances I have seen. Again, this is something I feel that stems from the miss direction and unbalanced tone presented to them during production. One cast member who does manage to deliver from start to finish however, is Alexandra Holden. She alone manages to hold a constant performance that only enhanced the embarrassing display of everyone around her.

As for visual effects there isn't much to dissect. The majority of the kills featured throughout 'Dead End' are set up in a way that should hold some form emotional weight, but are all showcased via cutaways and aftermath segments that the cast are not equipped to portray the importance of to the audience. This honestly made me feel cheated every time it happened, as it seemed to me as though these scenes where the perfect opportunity to elevate this movie out of the repetitive slum it was suffering from. I think that had writers and directors Andrea and Canepa utilised a little bit more creativity in these moments, it would have drastically effected my take away perception of this movie.

The overall idea behind 'Dead End' and the constant curiosity and unknowing that it provides, make for a really intriguing experience. However, there is a lot of repetitive and bloated scenes that I feel could have been trimmed down in order to condense this runtime and provided a much more consistent pacing. This is something that would certainly be much better suited to a 'Tales of the Crypt' episode or even a more condensed segment of an anthology movie. There is certainly much to appreciate, but the messy direction, questionable performances and convoluted tone is too distracting to appreciate the core narrative.



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