"The Dead Ones"
review by Diablo Joe
The Dead Ones
The Dead Ones
Stylish. Intense. Violent. Hallucinogenic. Original.
Acadia High School looks like a warzone. And Mouse, Scottie, Emily, and Louis are the gang responsible for destroying it. They’ve been given late-night cleanup detention as punishment. But soon, other things are afoot this night as well.
Four figures, clad in gas masks tricked out in a manner that Slipnot would envy, have chained the place tight and planted… something in the air ducts. And their arrival signals a night of hell and harrowing tortures for the teens—physical, mental, and even deeper.
Director Jeremy Kasten and his long-time writer Zach Chassler (both of 2007’s Wizard of Gore remake) have crafted something truly different and terrifying in The Dead Ones. The first half of the film has us repeatedly thinking we may have this under control, but by midway through we begin to lock onto what is happening. But the mystery is not the point here, it’s the ride that counts and it’s a helluva wild one. Clocking in at just over an hour and fifteen minutes, including closing credits, Kasten wastes no time getting us in, strapping us down, and sending us over the precipice. It’s a hellish rollercoaster that comes to a violent, brutal final loop de loop.
Visually, The Dead Ones is great. The production design, effects, editing, and camerawork are frighteningly hallucinatory without falling into easy tricks like strobing quick-cuts or other commonplace conventions. His vision has been cleanly mapped out and executed. There’s stuff happening all over this film, but it’s often subtle–insidious; like a black mold seeping into the proceedings. Sean Murray’s score adds just the right tone of tension and drive.
The performances from our four young leads are solid and distinct. The women are particularly notable. Sarah Rose Harper’s Mouse and especially Katie Foster’s Emily carry a lot of the film’s emotional weight. Foster makes Emily’s mental health issues, if not quite wholly realistic, then believably grounded. As the groups’ supervising teacher, Ms. Persephone, Clare Kramer brings something completely fresh from what we’ve seen from her as Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Glory.
Kasten and Chassler have avoided a heavy hand in their script and storytelling style. At first, I expected it to keep accelerating until it hurtled over the top, a la George Miller’s frenetic action, or Richard Stanley’s feverish nightmares. But they both bring their own style and outlook to The Dead Ones, and it’s a better film for it.
This devil of a reviewer gives The Dead Ones 4 out of 5 imps