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Deadly End (DVD)

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Deadly End DVD review!Reviewed by Paul McCannibal

Starring Jack Huston, Pell James, Nick Searcy, Terry Becker

Directed by Graeme Whifler (interview)

Released by Wizard Entertainment


At its core, Deadly End (aka Neighborhood Watch) is a film about a poisoner. In this day and age of torture porn at the local multiplex and formulaic gorefest blowouts like Hatchet, one might reasonably ask how a movie about a poisoner could compete. Poisoning takes time, after all. And stealth. What could the story of a poisoner possibly entail? A wispy haired rogue in tights sneaking up to a minstrel dozing beneath a willow tree, whispering Shakespearian platitudes whilst pouring tincture of hemlock into his ear?

Better think again…

You want extreme, this is your movie! You’ve probably heard the hype about the audience fallout in festival screenings of Deadly End (back when it was called Neighborhood Watch), like the medics being called in when someone passed out when the movie played at Fantasia in Montreal (I was there, it’s true) and someone else breaking out in hives while watching it elsewhere.

This happened because Deadly End is a film that, simply put, goes farther than even a lot of us horror folks are typically used to going. Above and beyond isn’t the right way to phrase it – Deadly End is goes below and beneath; to those ugly places in the brain that we like to leave undisturbed. Director Graeme Whifler goes straight into these dark recesses and pokes around like a morbidly curious kid prodding a dead animal with a stick.

Deadly End DVD review!There’s a sense of perverse menace pretty much right away when you start watching this film. We’re brought into the new life of a young couple, Bob and Wendi, at their brand new home where the belongings aren’t even unpacked yet. Bob’s got a new job, they’re a young couple in love, it’s a scenario where the best days are meant to be ahead. But then, we’re immediately whisked away into the nightmare residence of neighbor Adrien Trumbull, a truly horrific guy who is lying back on his decrepit floor, his soiled, grimy shirt pulled up as he picks away at his … well, I don’t want to tell you what he’s doing because it’s something better seen than described.

Adrien Trumbull likes to “take care” of his neighbors; he’s the Welcome Wagon from hell. Our first glimpse of him doing that nasty business on the floor, while highly nauseating and unsettling, is only the tip of the poopsicle … Adrien’s got divine intervention in mind, a way to purify the dirty, stinky sex lives of people in his midst, like those young neighbors Bob and Wendi who just set up house across the road. He knows there’s something inside them that needs to be purged, something rotten and seething, something that’s poisoning their souls without them knowing it. And he’s going to make things right for them by all means necessary. Like all really formidable villains, Adrien doesn’t see what he’s doing as wrong. He thinks he’s helping people in his sickly dogmatic way.

The role of Adrien Trumbull is handled masterfully by actor Nick Searcy. This is a complete reversal from how I knew Searcy before, as Deputy Ben Healy in the criminally overlooked sinister TV series “American Gothic” which was, in my opinion, the only horror oriented show to rival “Twin Peaks” in both quality and originality. In “American Gothic”, Searcy was one of the good guys, and damn likeable in that kind of role. Here, in Deadly End? Yeesh … the man reveals that he is a total chameleon as an actor. His acting abilities have lead to the creation of one of the most vile screen villains of all time; I shit you not.

Deadly End DVD review!Searcy and his embodiment of Adrien Trumbull might be the thing you remember most about the film, but there’s plenty of other disturbed elements and narrative layers at play. Deadly End exists in a turbulent, unsettled world where pretty much every character and aesthetic attribute is messed up in some way. Any semblance of comfortable living is crushed or smeared into a distorted remnant of normality – the whole neighborhood in which the story is set is some kind of post-disaster tornado zone. The new home interior of the protagonists is in permanent unboxing mode, a mess of cluttered belongings and half painted walls. Adrien’s house would make a meth lab sprawling with tweakers seem tranquil by comparison.

Then there’s Zeecor, the company in which our hero Bob takes his new job. Zeecor is a hilariously depressing take on the worst realities of modern corporate existence, from needless drug testing to mewling and manipulative coworkers, to psycho-babes who sexually manipulate their way up the corporate ladder. Zeecor, like a lot of dull office jobs, isn’t so much a career as a lifelong trap posing as a career. The corporate satire in this movie feels like the American cousin to English weirdo-humorist Chris Morris’s “Blue Jam” surrealist comedy series.

But for most of Deadly End, it’s Adrien the creepy neighbor against Bob & Wendi, the unsuspecting newlyweds. The tale is rife with extreme schadenfreude, no excess is spared and no punches are pulled in what Adrien unleashes on this poor couple and others in the ‘hood. The bad things that unfold start very bad and somehow just keep getting worse. The dialing-up effect kinda grows on you like ringworm, and it’s not until you notice the brown itchy spiral halfway around your arm that you realize you’ve been infected with something really nasty.

Deadly End DVD review!In terms of pure visceral effect, the ability to churn stomachs, and generally freak people the fuck out, Deadly End could feasibly be placed in that dingy corner of the video store where they stock copies of Salo and Cannibal Holocaust. Not because of thematic parallels to either of those titles, more because this is a movie that’ll upset some people in a big way. On the other hand, for those with the fortitude to handle it, there’s an undeniably hilarity to the presentation that somehow remains queasy enough that it never stumbles into out-and-out horror/comedy territory. This movie is most definitely in a category of its own. The only other film I’ve seen in recent years that comes remotely close in tone and feel is the middle section of The Signal (review).

So, what of the features on this disc from Wizard? Thankfully it’s gotten itself a strong release here in the States, even if the marketing was less than ideal

Watch the film end-to-end a second time, if you can handle it, and you’ll get plenty of fun anecdotes about the source material and the behind the scenes from Graeme Whifler and Nick Searcy in the commentary. Screenwriter and big time Deadly End fan Matthew Chernov is on hand to ask all those things that a lot of people might be wondering about with regards to this film.

There’s also a “making of” doccuemntary that’s a funny and well done behind the scenes look co-helmed by Deadly End producer Jeff Kirshbaum. It looks like people working on this had a lot of fun. The interesting thing about this making-of is how ratty the makeup FX look even in non-polished video. A lot of the time, seeing prosthetics and so on in the daylight, they just look like props. Not here! Some of the FX stuff in this making-of rivals the movie in its icky disgustingness. And boy, does Nick Searcy ever get into his role. You’re practically getting a whole extra dose of Adrien in the making-of, so be sure to check it out.

There are also some behind-the-scenes photos, which are nothing special, just a handful of promo shots. Maybe a desktop for your computer if you want to do a screengrab…

Deadly End DVD review!Finally we have music tracks, which always seems like an odd inclusion to make on a DVD, because DVD movie releases aren’t usually what one reaches for when listening to music. Anyway, it’s a good soundtrack that reminds me of Danny Elfman mixed with The Residents. I especially like the tracks featuring the rabid banter of the fundamentalist radio host.

So if you have a strong stomach, what are you waiting for? Got a few meek friends and a sadistic streak? Grab some beers, a copy of this DVD, and get ready to cause devastation in your social scene. Including the risk of ostracism if you are complicit in one of your nearest and dearest breaking out in sores.

Deadly End is hands-down the most gruesome shock film of the new millennium. But it’s much more than that – it’s also one of the most uncompromising and original horror films ever made.

Special features

  • Director’s commentary
  • Making-of featurette
  • Music Tracks
  • Behind-the-scenes photo gallery
  • MOVIE

    5 out of 5

    EXTRAS

    4 out of 5

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    American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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    Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo

    Directed by Colin Bemis


    Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.

    The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.

    As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

    Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.

    Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.

    In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.

    On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.

    In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.

    Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

    • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
    3.5

    Summary

    Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.

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    Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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    We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.

    In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

    Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!

    If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

    The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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    Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View

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    Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly

    Directed by Marcel Sarmiento


    Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as

    17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?

    What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.

    • Film
    2.0

    Summary

    Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?

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