‘Dead End’ Is The Ultimate Forgotten Christmas Horror Movie

When it comes to Christmas horror, making a choice can be tough. There are only a finite amount of classics out there. Say what you will about the Silent Night, Deadly Night series; at the end of the day, they’re not exactly substantive. That’s where Dead End makes its entrance. If you’re on the hunt for some original Christmas horror that you have likely never seen, this bizarre little indie title is sure to hit the spot.

Dead End went direct to DVD in 2003, but don’t let that put you off. This film festival darling was written and directed by French duo Jean-Baptiste Andrea et Fabrice Cenepa who wear their historically French existentialist roots on their sleeves. This English language feature stars the always iconic Lin Shaye and the incomparably weird Ray Wise in career highlights which deserve way WAY more attention.

Also Read: These 10 Holiday Horror Titles Should be on Your Shortlist

The story here sees Shaye and Wise as a mature married couple on a Christmas Eve road trip as they make their way to a family function. They’re joined by their son Richard (Mick Cain), daughter Marion (Alexandra Holden) and Marion’s boyfriend Brad (Billy Asher). To keep himself awake at the wheel, Wise’s character Frank decides to take a shortcut off of the highway. That’s when this highly dysfunctional family finds themselves on a never-ending road to nowhere. No exits, no cars, no buildings—only trees and a never-ending stretch of remote sideroad.

Things take a very strange detour when the family picks up a mysterious hitchhiker (Amber Smith) standing alone on the side of the street in this dark isolated stretch of nowhere. The woman is unable to speak, wears all white, and is cradling a small bundled-up baby in her arms. When her infant is revealed to be the charred remains of a child, the line between reality and nightmare begins to slip. To make things worse, an ominous hearse appears to be following them… picking up dead bodies as they begin to pile up.

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Dead End plays out a lot like an episode of Twilight Zone, although it takes much darker and stranger routes than any iteration of that series have dared to travel. It’s impossible not to make the connection to Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit. Both Dead End and No Exit are brutal existentialist productions with very little hope for their crew of characters. Thankfully, Dead End manages to build some dry absurdist comedy into the already brooding sandbox for its extremely talented ensemble.

While each member of the small cast manages to shine, the breakaway performance on this spooky Christmas charcuterie board has got to be the always startling Lin Shaye. A solid decade before her career-defining turn in the Insidious franchise, Dead End showcases Shaye at her best. As the gravity of her family’s situation becomes crushing, Shaye’s quickly unraveling lunacy is likely the most chilling aspect of this already frightening Christmas eve classic.

And while you may see the ending for this gem in the rearview mirror long before the credits roll, there’s still something utterly unmissable about this charming Christmas horror moment. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend giving this strange little movie a try. Dead End is available to stream for free on Tubi and Prime Video. There’s no reason to sleep on it this year.



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