“We should have left earlier.”
Somehow I managed to miss out on this sleeper hit way back in 2003, but discovering Dead End late one evening this week was a pure delight! This independent road thriller has a ton of things going for it and far exceeded my expectations. It was written and directed by Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa and features an amazing cast loaded with familiar character actors that horror fans will love.
Believe it or not but this film is actually a Christmas movie! It takes place on Christmas Eve night while Frank Harrington is driving his family and his daughter’s boyfriend to visit the in-laws for the holidays. Becoming sleepy, Frank decides to take a “shortcut” to keep things interesting so that he will stay awake. It doesn’t work, however, and he soon dozes off, almost hitting an oncoming vehicle. Finally awake, Frank continues to drive but stops when he sees a young woman dressed in white on the side of the road. The family picks up the woman and her infant (who is ridiculously quiet) and decide to take her to a cabin that they passed by earlier on the road. When they arrive at the cabin, people start vanishing one by one only to be discovered later by the survivors. They also witness a black hearse driving down the road with the vanished person in the back begging for help. This happens moments before they find the body of the missing person. The survivors continue to drive hoping to make it to a small town called Marcott. How many survive? Will they ever reach Marcott? Watch the film to find out what happens!
This film was a nice surprise. Sure, it isn’t perfect and there are much better horror films out there, but this movie checks off all of the right boxes to make it a very enjoyable flick. It has an amazingly solid cast featuring Ray Wise (Twin Peaks, Robocop, Jeepers Creepers 2, The Journey of Natty Gann, Swamp Thing), Lin Shaye (Insidious, The Grudge, Alone In The Dark, There’s Something About Mary, Ouija), Alexandra Holden (Wishcraft, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Dark Reel, Friends), and Steve Valentine (Crossing Jordan, Mars Attacks!, Spider-Man 3). The film also stars Mick Cain (The Bold And The Beautiful), William Rosenfeld (credited as Billy Asher, executive produced Zombeavers, among other films), and supermodel Amber Smith.
The film plays out like an episode of The Twilight Zone, with characters doubting themselves and others and turning on one another. Also like The Twilight Zone, it takes place almost entirely in one setting, a long stretch of road. In all honesty the plot is very predictable and the viewer is ultimately left to decide who will actually make it out of the film alive, if anyone at all. Wise and Shaye (as wife, Laura) turn in great performances. Wise is especially fun to watch as his sanity begins to unravel. Amber Smith doesn’t have much to say or do in this film as the mysterious woman in white, but she makes an impact with her brief performance. Billy Asher (as boyfriend, Brad) and Mick Cain (as son, Richard) both turn out nice performances with Cain being the most annoying character in the movie. The real star, in my opinion, is Alexandra Holden as Marion, the Harrington’s daughter. She has to deal with a ton of emotions right off the bat in the film and continues to struggle with them and be strong for others as the situation becomes worse.
If you enjoy highwayman horror or shows like The Twilight Zone, give Dead End a look. It’s a really enjoyable watch and I think that you’ll like it. It’s available on Tubi to stream for free as of this writing.
Thanks for checking out my post. See you again real soon!