JULY 26, 2012
I’m used to covers being misleading and showing more technical skill than the films inside, but Deadtime is the rare instance where the cover is the extent of the movie’s creativity. The cover shows a guitar where the neck has been replaced with a disembodied/bloody arm (or perhaps just wrapped in the skin of one), which sells the movie’s concept quite nicely, but is wasted on a dull, cliché-ridden time-waster that seemingly went off a checklist of what NOT to do in a slasher movie.
And what would that checklist entail? Let’s count em out!
1. Unlikable characters. Nothing new, but puts a spin on things – the characters aren’t just annoying, they’re CONSTANTLY ANGRY. I’ve never seen a movie where everyone seemed to be on edge at all times, like the actors were filmed shortly after being stuck in traffic for 5 hours and then spilling a hot coffee on their lap when they finally got out of the car. To be fair, it does yield some pretty funny insults here and there, but it’s pretty sad when I actually start longing for the usual stereotype characters (the jock, nerd, etc) who had no reason to be friends. Since they’re a modern British rock band I assume all of the in-fighting is supposed to be a take on Oasis, but if that’s the joke it wears thin, quickly.
2. Bad kills. For the most part, this movie offers two options for the kill scenes – off-screen, or CGI. Unsurprisingly, I was less offended by the former, because at least when they do the off-screen kills you can use your imagination (or they can use it to conceal a twist, like in My Bloody Valentine when Axl “drowns”), but there are still too many. However, they’re better than the CGI ones, which look terrible and, like the cover, waste some fun ideas. I’m not saying CGI has no place in horror – as someone rightfully pointed out on Twitter, the Final Destination films are heavily CG-based – but in this sort of masked slasher movie, it’s a huge letdown to see them relying on it so much. Sure, some of those FX in Friday the 13th don’t hold up too well on Blu-ray, but that was 32 years ago! What’s your excuse for these looking like shit on the day the damn thing was released on standard def DVD?
3. Idiotic plotting. The best slashers keep the characters oblivious for most of the runtime, so that they have an excuse for continuing to go off alone (or with a lover). But here, someone is killed around the 30 minute mark, and everyone finds the body. We’re then told that they’re trapped inside (and with no cell phone service and blah blah), which could have at least turned into an exciting chase type movie. However, they pretty much go back to normal – people still go off to fuck, argue about the band’s new album, etc. So the pacing is non-existent, and by having everyone discover the body, the writer paints himself into a corner. Unless they’re on a spaceship or maybe the top of a techno-based highrise, I never buy the “We’re trapped here” thing, especially for a rundown building like this – seems they could have just kicked a hole in a wall to get out.
4. Lack of clear geography. For a movie that spends about 90% of its runtime in one building (the music studio), you’d think you’d get a good sense of its layout after a while. But no, I had a lot of trouble understanding how the rooms were connected, where characters were in relation to each other, etc. At one point there’s a shot of the hero running down some stairs somewhere, and then they cut to another room with someone else. Where is he? Was he running toward or away from them? How far apart are they? These things should at least be generally clear in ANY movie, let alone a single location slasher where “Where’s ____?” is asked in every other scene.
5. Overlong ending. Strangely enough, right around the 55 minute mark, I began wondering if there was ever a whodunit slasher where the identity wasn’t as important to the 3rd act as you’d expect, with the twist not necessarily being who it was but what he was actually trying to do. So it’s crazy that, 7 minute later (with nearly 40 minutes to go), we do indeed find out who the killer is. Now, if the killings were just a means to an end, with him working for a demon or some nonsense (I’m not the screenwriter!) this could work, but there’s nothing particularly novel or original about his plan. So the next 35 minutes is just the final five minutes of any other slasher stretched out to eternity. He explains his motives forever, he chases the others around forever, the epilogue goes on forever, it takes three attempts to actually kill him... there’s even a bit where the hero runs into a room and sees the killer fighting an innocent guy, and thus he has to pick which one is the real killer. These scenes work when WE don’t know (Jason Goes To Hell comes to mind, at the end with the sheriff and the deputy), but when we DO, and the movie has already outstayed its welcome, then it’s just another red mark.
Oh and it looks like ass, but I’m used to that by now. The ability to properly shoot, post, and output a movie is something of a niche form these days, and I guess I just have to accept it, and try not to weep when a filmmaker actually has to clarify “Shot and edited on film” at the end of his blockbuster movie (that would be Christopher Nolan/TDKR, for the record).
The DVD comes with a pair of extras, a brief look at the studio, and a 22 minute making of that left no impression. Considering the movie’s plot and number of rock songs (some of which are pretty good), I’m kind of surprised that there isn’t a music video, but it’s clear that doing things “right” wasn’t on the agenda here. And besides, putting more effort into the film or its bonus features would take time away from writing fake IMDb reviews (3 of the 4 on there right now are plants), and that’s what’s REALLY important nowadays. Why make a good film and rely on legitimate reviews when you can lazily make any old thing and write some fake ones? Thanks for driving the genre even further away from respectability, Deadtime crew!
What say you?