Dead End (2003)

dead end

Director: Jean-Baptiste Andrea.
Starring: Ray Wise, Lin Shaye, Alexandar Holden, Mick Cain, Billy Asher, Amber Smith. France. 1h 25m.

Directorial debut from the aspired French madman Jean-Baptiste Andrea, and sparingly turns out to be an intelligent creepy family horror. After taking a back road on the way to a routine family Christmas party, the patriarch nods off at the wheel and is soon shocked awake, but the never ending road the family find themselves on is not quite the one they intended to be on. The family carry on the dark winding road that seems to be leading to Harcourt, an unknown place but no matter how long they drive it seems unattainable.

Eventually they stop at various points, while continuously arguing until they see a young woman carrying a baby, they offer her a ride and things start to get even stranger. The girls, who smells funny reveals that she’s holding a dead baby before vanishing into the night. Slowly the family unravels and start admitting dark secrets while losing sanity, shooting each other and going into a psychotic modes while being picked off one by one in grisly ways and taken down the road by a strange black car.

There is too much comedy, particularly from the parents Ray Wise and Lin Shaye, for this to be considered a true horror movie. It has some creepy moments, but the togetherness and sentimentality keep it too warm, whereas this could have been totally batshit silent hill crazy with real monsters and frights, but instead it’s left to the imagination. This isn’t a bad thing, I thoroughly enjoy the film every time I watch it.

The dynamics between the two veteran actors is enchanting , Shae has never been one to shy away from awkward parts and seems to thrive on the insanity of her character, her more mild mannered husband who’s struggling not to lose any more of his family is the not to be taken seriously Wise who is fitting for the role and gave it some extra spice, but the younger actors held their own against them but didn’t quite give as much, but hopefully they will learn and grow from this experience.

It’s unclear if the movie would have benefitted from using more special effects, I admire that it kept things real, there’s no CGI nonsense here, but so many scenes lacked ANY effects, one example is when there are ghosts apparently appearing on the road and in the trees but all we see is the maniacal Shaye waving at them from within the car but no effects, but we do see faces being ripped off, brains being molested and some other nasties but it seems to be kept at a minimum, possibly just to keep the audience focused on the story.

It does lack the full on in your face horror tactics and the story is one we’ve all had some experience with but it’s a pleasure to watch a family falling apart psychologically a dope smoking son who can’t stop ripping the shit out of his sister’s beau and a father coming to terms with Marilyn Bronson (Manson). It’s not hard core but it is entertaining.




Rating 7/10

RThe Others (2001), Ghost Story (1981), Joy Ride (2001), the hearse (1980)
L – Limbo Films
A – Limbo in Films how the afterlife has been portrayed
5SRay Wise, Lin Shaye
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