More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 6.67%
Worth A Look46.67%
Average: 30%
Pretty Bad: 6.67%
Total Crap: 10%

2 reviews, 18 user ratings

Latest Reviews

To the Ends of the Earth by Jay Seaver

Wood Job! by Jay Seaver

News of the World by Rob Gonsalves

Promising Young Woman by Rob Gonsalves

Wonder Woman 1984 by Rob Gonsalves

Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone by Rob Gonsalves

Mank by Rob Gonsalves

Wander Darkly by Rob Gonsalves

Stand In, The by Rob Gonsalves

MLK/FBI by alejandroariera

subscribe to this feed

Dead End (2004)
[] Buy posters from this movie
by MP Bartley

"Aren't family road trips always a pain?"
4 stars

Is there anything more spooky or atmospheric than driving at night? I certainly don't think so. The total darkness only illuminated by your headlights, the brief glimpses of the surroundings as you flash by, the feeling of total's as evocative as you can get. No surprise then 'Dead End' uses this atmosphere to good creepy and unsettling effect.

The Harrington family - father Frank (Ray Wise), mother Laura (Lin Shaye), whiney pot-smoking son Richard (Mick Cain), psychiatrist daughter Marion (Alexandra Holden) and her boyfriend Brad (Billy Asher) - are travelling late Christmas Eve to get to Laura's mothers for Christmas. Frank, in his infinite wisdom, has decided to take a shortcut down a road surrounded by woods that they've never been down before. And we all know what happens when a decision like that is taken. They come across a young woman in white who is catatonic, bloodied and holding a baby. Deciding they have to help, they set off for the local hospital, which is when things get freeeeaky.

That's all you're getting from me plot-wise, because the success of 'Dead End' relies on you knowing as little as possible about it before you see it. Going in unaware, with your eyes open is the best way for it to work its eerie and foreboding atmosphere on you. It's probably best to decsribe 'Dead End' as one-third 'The Hitcher' and two-thirds 'The Blair Witch Project', because instead of being a gore-fest with the requisite card (or knife) carrying psycho, it relies more on psychological horror to get those hairs standing up on the back of our necks. And stand up they do, at frequent intervals. It's more like 'Blair Witch' in that it sets up an unpleasant scene and doesn't let it get any better, instead spiralling further down into a clammy sense of unease whilst slowly making you nibble your fingernails nervously. The wood settings, the lack of complete answers and the haunting figure of a woman all suggest that this would have been a much better sequel than 'Book of Shadows', and the film overall has the hypnotic quality of a particularly vivid nightmare.

Directors Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Capea show an obvious knowledge of what makes rural horror like this particularly, and show a real flair for imagination and unsettling visuals. Gore and blood is rarely seen, but is more than made up for by brief glimpses of the watching woman in the woods or the casual use of a baby carriage. And they work the dark location of a deserted road in the middle of the night superbly.

The cast are effective, without being too eye-catching. Wise and Holden make for a decent father-daughter pairing, whilst Shaye gets steadily funnier the more demented she gets as the film progresses. It helps that Andrea and Capea don't just dive straight into the horror, they take the time to set up the family dynamic and have knack for writing naturalistic, squabbling family dialogue without making the characters irritating.

But there are a couple of things that knock a star off the rating here. For all its effective atmosphere, there's no truly great scare to be had and it rarely rises above creepy (although it does sustain a constantly creepy tone), and unfortunately, like any film that sets out to constantly intrigue, answers will have to be eventually given. And when they are, they inevitably disappoint. The ending here is much more clever than you initially give it credit for, which will then make you go back and piece the clues together that the film gave you, until you go "Ah, of course, so that's why...". But when the rest of the film is promising to be much more unique and daring, it's a shame that it turns out to be nothing more than an extended 'Twilight Zone' episode.

Nonetheless, 'Dead End' is a promising piece of work indeed. The ending wraps things up in a way that would be too neat for some, but don't let that over-ride the memory of the other 75 minutes which have a creepy and highly effective atmosphere all of their own. It's a film that seems to be destined for a life on video or a film that you'll catch late one night on tv and be glued to until the next morning when you ask everyone else if they saw it. And like an urban legend no-one else will have ever seen it. Don't let 'Dead End' disappear like that and, yes, don't watch it the next time you have to make an over-night drive.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 03/05/05 01:18:02
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

12/11/20 Mandi (Dean Measor) great nephew or the grandson of Tony Award nominated actress Beryl Measor? 2 stars
10/11/20 Charlie G Dean Measor is underused and totally underrated as an actor. 3 stars
9/18/20 Steel lady He (Dean Measor) plays a newspaper photographer in it. You’re right, he’s uncredited. 4 stars
5/17/20 Trev C Dean Measor (uncredited) appears for a few seconds on this pretty poor 3 stars
7/25/17 TC Dean Measor (uncredited) appears for a few seconds on this pretty poor gore. 1 stars
5/04/12 jodie juhl FUNNY! I loved it, problem is can't find a copy for a halloween marathon 4 stars
11/20/10 ptri really....i completely agree about the music...but almost nothing else in this review 1 stars
11/15/10 TED I'm not sure about the positive comments this movie received but its obviously crap! 2 stars
10/19/06 David Pollastrini good gore. 4 stars
7/05/06 Suzy Beats Blair Witch all to hell, compelling horror and sickly hilarious 4 stars
11/23/05 Guy Delivers lots of scares and great suspense, the best of the road trip horror flicks. 5 stars
10/15/05 Gary It's "Jacob's Ladder" meets the "Machinest" but not as good as either. 3 stars
6/18/05 J Intelligent dark humor rollercoaster. The cast ROCKS. Watch past apparent "end" and THINK. 4 stars
4/04/05 Ric Best supernatural horror flick in years. This is "cover your eyes" scary! 5 stars
3/21/05 Kyle Entertaining & original. Ending sucked. Mick Cain most effective in his role. 4 stars
3/05/05 Kyle I liked it, but the ending - SO. FUCKING. PREDICTABLE. I wasn't even trying to predict it. 4 stars
2/20/05 lj indescribably BAD 1 stars
11/13/04 Shank blair witch meets highway 2 hell 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  09-Nov-2004 (R)
  DVD: 09-Nov-2004



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast