Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Melissa Joan Hart, John Terry, Chip Bent, Lawrence Turner, Edrick Browne
Directed by Chris Shadley
Distributed by Image Entertainment
It’s really easy to dismiss Chris Shadley’s Nine Dead as a Saw rip-off because … well … it is. But just like the equally as familiar House of 9 (review here), it happens to be a better than average one.
The story is one we’ve seen dozens of times now. Several strangers (in this flick there are nine) wake up in a room not knowing who each other is or what they’re doing there. In an instant a killer wearing a nondescript rubber mask and hood bursts into the room they’re chained up in and informs the group that they have ten minutes to figure out why they are there. If after ten minutes pass they haven’t figured it out, our killer will shoot one of them and then the clock will be reset for another ten minutes and so on and so forth.
Again, it’s really familiar stuff, but where Nine Dead shines is the fun of trying to piece together the mystery of why this band of misfits — which is comprised of a squeaky clean pharmaceutical guy, a lawyer, a cop, an older Asian woman who doesn’t speak English, a street thug, a young actor, a priest, a pedophile, and a Vegas mafioso — have been brought together in the first place. Despite how jaded I am, it actually kept me guessing, and I have to praise it for that.
There are some problems, though, like cutting back to the same scene outside several times, some really stilted dialogue, and a weird opening cameo by Daniel Baldwin, who shows up momentarily only to grimace and look sweaty. It almost feels like they ran out of money during the production and cut corners wherever they could. Other than all that, however, what we have here is a slightly above average little mystery starring a completely uncompromising killer.
Sadly, when it comes to special features, the DVD is home to hardly anything at all. We just get a quick theatrical trailer. Boo. Hiss. Boo.
In the end I hope that Nine Dead finds its audience, if only for director Chris Shadley. Keeping material like this feeling fresh is no easy task. I’m really curious to see what would happen should this dude get himself an actual budget to work with. Keep punching, Chris! We’re rooting for ya!
3 out of 5
1/2 out of 5
Discuss Nine Dead in our forums!