Here’s a movie that I like to watch each October as I binge on scary flicks, prepping for my favorite Holiday, Halloween.
On their way to unite with more of their family for Christmas, the Harrington’s are doing their best to get along with each other on the car ride. Frank (Ray Wise), the father and driver of the vehicle, has decided not to take the interstate and use a back road instead. Being night time and not a very exciting journey, Frank falls asleep just long enough to nearly hit an oncoming car. Once he avoids the accident, he checks to make sure their own vehicle is ok (for whatever reason) and then continues on. But things on this road aren’t what they seem. . .
Only in certain situations can I handle a non-evolving setting, and this is one of those exceptions. The characters never leave the road, and the road never seems to end. In fact, Frank becomes sure that they are passing some of the same things again. This may not sound very thrilling, but when it’s dark, and you seem to be separated from the rest of the world, things get interesting. And if you have no imagination or don’t allow yourself to connect to the film, then you may not get much out of it. For me, I envision myself in the vehicle with them. How messed up would it be to not see any more cars passing by, or no people, buildings, lights, or any type of civilization anywhere?
Another trait I liked was the characters themselves. With the exception of the daughters boyfriend (who was just their to be an extra person to die), I was able to fall for the Harrington family and grow attached to the film. The son is just a teenage boy, with a sick sense of humor. The daughter is supposed to be a shrink, but I never understood how. The mother is a typical mom who eventually loses her mind and it’s hilarious. Then finally, there’s the father, who maintains himself very well, up until the end of the movie. Each character helps balance out the other ones, using different emotions and states of mind throughout the movie.
You don’t have defective eyes. I did actually say that the mother losing her mind was hilarious. Ironically enough, they even threw in some humor. Brought on by shock, the mother slips into her own reality at one point in the film and starts acting silly enough to make me laugh. It’s an unexpected emotion from a horror movie, but I thought it was a great addition. I also compliment the film makers on not stooping down to the level of other horror movies, and using jump scares. There were a couple parts that slightly used this tactic, but for the most part, the movie was solid and legit.
Three things bother me about this movie. Firstly, we never get to see the dead bodies once a character was killed. We only see the other character’s reactions, and maybe a small glimpse at a body part or two. I’m not sure what the goal was here, but I would have enjoyed more blood and gore. The fact that I did very much enjoy Dead End without it though, says a lot about the talent behind this film.
Secondly, I was irritated at the fact that they had to stop the car for EVERYTHING! “OMG, a used condom on the side of the road! Let’s stop and check it out!” Alright, so that wasn’t in the movie, but it might as well have been. How many people have to die before they realize that stopping was the last thing they should do!
Lastly, it doesn’t really take that long to determine what is actually going on with these people. The movie can only do so much in trying to hide what really happened, while giving us what we need to see and know. So, it isn’t foolproof, and you may likely see the ending coming, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying it.
Total Abstract Rating: 85% This isn’t a morning or afternoon movie. This is a film for after sundown, to enjoy with some popcorn.
Thanks for reading! Written by Chris McBride, partner of Horrorville and author of Abstracticality.