Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5  
Dead End (2003)
15Contains strong language, gory horror and moderate sex

Dead End, a low-budget horror starring Ray Wise, feels like an extended episode of The Twilight Zone, but it's witty and chilling enough to offer some spine-tingling surprises en route. It's the night of Christmas Eve, and Frank Harrington is driving his family to the in-laws. This year, though, he's taking a short cut through the woods, a decision they'll live to regret.

A mysterious woman in white lurches out of the shadows and sends the Harringtons spinning into a dark vortex from which there seems to be no escape. Signposts point to a town that never materialises, frustration turns to panic, and every time they stop, a hearse appears and whisks one of them away.

To make matters worse, the already strained relationships between husband and wife, brother and sister, and boyfriend and girlfriend are stretched to breaking point.

Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa's Grimm fable is hardly blessed with originality, its road trip to hell device being a staple of everything from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to the recent Wrong Turn.

Moreover, those with even a passing acquaintance with the genre will guess how the movie pans out long before it reaches its abrupt and rather unsatisfying conclusion.

Where it scores is in its canny exploration of family dynamics and a jet-black gallows humour that will have you tittering into your popcorn even as you cower behind your Big Gulp.

Wise, displaying the same steely determination he showed in Jeepers Creepers 2, is the nominal star, but his relatively unknown co-stars are no less effective - not least Lin Shaye, hilariously unhinged as the mom who slips into mania.


And while there's ultimately less to Dead End than meets the eye, it remains an ingenious exercise in nerve-shredding tension that makes a virtue of its limited means.

End Credits

Director: Jean-Baptiste Andrea, Fabrice Canepa

Writer: Jean-Baptiste Andrea, Fabrice Canepa

Stars: Ray Wise, Alexandra Holden, Lin Shaye, Mick Cain, Billy Asher, Amber Smith

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Length: 85 minutes

Cinema: 12 December 2003

Country: USA

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