Frank Harrington (Wise) and his family (wife Laura, son Richard, daughter Marion and boyfriend Brad) are on their way to visit Frank’s mother-in-law on Christmas Eve. Since it’s late and dark, Frank decides to take a shortcut for the first time in 20 years so that he would need to concentrate more on the road and not fall asleep. However, it doesn’t really succeed too well as he does fall asleep for a second and almost has an accident. They continue their journey until they meet a woman in white with a baby who are standing next to the road. They pick her up but she seems completely in shock so they decide to stop at the nearest cabin they find. Once there, Brad and the woman, who both stayed in the car, disappear. Frank and his family decide to drive to the nearest town, Malcott, to find help, but although they keep driving, they don’t find any signs that they’re nearing the town. Meanwhile, the tension in the car between the different family members is getting higher and higher…
Sound and Vision:
Dead End is for 90% shot in the dark but the dvd doesn’t have any problems with that. At all times, we get good sharp image with enough detail to see clearly what is going on. Compression errors are absent and so is edge enhancement. A good release from Paradiso.
The same can be said about the soundtrack. Although the surround channels are only scarsely used, we get a dynamic track that does manage to add to the atmosphere.
Dead End is filled with clichés. The lonely road, the slashing of the cast one by one, drug-taking (even alcohol) gets you killed, thinking about sex gets you killed, etc etc etc. However, Dead End is all but bad. The tension is built up very well, Ray Wise is cast fantastically as the dad who tries to get his family home, and the setting of the lonely road without an end is superb. The fact that the gore isn’t shown in all its details also is a good point this time as it leaves more to the imagination of the viewer and makes sure you don’t start laughing about bad FX.
Dead End is definitely a movie you’ll want to watch on a Saturday night with all the lights off and the surround set turned on. Add a couple of candles for some moody atmosphere and you’ll have a great time (if you like the genre). However, I wouldn’t recommend buying it immediately. Dead End is rather slow-paced and you might get bored if you don’t really get into the (predictable and simple) storyline. Renting is a first choice, if you like it, then buy it. On the other hand, the dvd is sold at a low price so you might as well buy it anyway to add to your collection of B-cult-movies. Too bad there aren’t any extras on this disc as for the rest we can only say that Paradiso has done a great job with this release.