Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring John Fallon, Deke Richards, Claudia Jurt, Neil Napier
Directed by Christian Viel
When John Fallon first made the announcement via his site, Arrow in the Head, that he would be starring in a movie he co-wrote with Samhain director Christian Viel, my first reaction was “it’s about damn time!” It was a bit disappointing to learn that it wasn’t a horror movie, but beggars can’t be choosers, can they? Violence is violence, damnit.
So first off it needs to be clear that Deaden, despite sounding like a zombie movie, isn’t horror in the strictest sense of the word. It’s violent as hell, though, with some top-notch makeup effects and a brutal outlook on the world around it, so it’s close enough for some love here on DC.
What Deaden is is a throwback to those 80’s revenge movies we all grew up loving. A cross between The Punisher and Steve Niles’ Cal McDonald stories, it’s a bleak little film about loss and the ultimate cost of revenge. Though there are some pacing issues that slow down the film a bit too often then I would’ve liked, when there is action it more than makes up for the slow bits, as Viel and crew certainly went above and beyond in their action staging to the point you’ll seriously wonder just how much it cost ‘em to make this violent little gem.
Our story begins very nastily; Rane (Fallon), an undercover cop who was tasked with infiltrating a reputed gang, watches in horror as his former cronies first beat then rape his pregnant wife, cutting the unborn child from her womb and leaving her to die, then put an arrow into Rane’s head to keep him from telling anyone about what happened. The lust for revenge is to great to keep Rane down, however, and as chance would have it the arrow wedged itself perfectly between his right and left lobes. This means he can continue to function as long as he’s hopped up on some serious pain medication.
He steals it from the hospital (apparently in Canada they keep high dosage painkillers in unlocked cabinets in all the patient’s rooms) and sets out to find the men and women who ruined, and tried to end, his life. One by one he tracks them down with the help of his gunshop-owning, hyper paranoid coke fiend friend, Kersey (Richards) and enacts nastier and nastier forms of revenge on them. Much hyperviolence ensues.
Peppered throughout these scenes of drug-fueled vengeance we learn more and more about how this gang of thugs happened to come upon Rane, why the police force he once worked for wants nothing to do with him now and just how close he was to finally getting away from it all. Unfortunately most of this is done via flashbacks while Rane sits somewhere and ponders his previous life and though it’s nice to get such a multi-layered backstory, it comes up too often and only manages to make the time between the deaths slower than it actually is. The thing is they can’t really do much cutting, either; the movie only clocks in at 75 minutes as it is; I really think it would move along a smoother if the filmmakers hadn’t felt the backstory was so important and just focused on the violence.
As an actor Fallon carries himself well, ranging between homicidal maniac and caring husband with ease. There’s nothing too standout about the performance, after all a lot of it is taken lovingly from clichéd action/vengeance movies of latter years, but you never once doubt that the man is a badass. At the end of the day that’s really all you need for a character like this to work, and Fallon’s got that side covered.
I know a lot of time and effort went into perfecting the soundtrack for Deaden and I’m happy to report it was all very worthwhile. Though some of the music seems a bit oddly placed, none of it is too overbearing (as is often the case with indie films) nor does it detract from the mood attempting to be created. Choosing bad music or music from a friend’s band is too often a pitfall for movies that can’t afford high-end licensing rights, but thankfully the crew behind Deaden were smart enough to know how to avoid such issues; that or they just have good taste in music.
As a minor side note; be sure to keep your eye out for some famous online horror personalities during a pan over Most Wanted posters in the cop’s office; you may not recognize us all, but there’s a lot of us that are apparently in some deep trouble with the FBI...
Deaden is a fun, bloody, mean-spirited indie film that I think horror fans will really enjoy. Less attention on the brooding character and more on the mayhem he sets forth to cause would be the only suggestion I would make to help it in any way; other than that Deaden is a helluva good time.
3 1/2 out of 5
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