Horror Movie Review: Dead End (2003)

Written and directed by Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa, Dead End is a 2003 horror film starring Ray Wise, Lin Shaye, Alexandra Holden & Mick Cain.

A minimalistic film, on Christmas Eve the Harrington family are driving to Frank’s (Ray Wise) mothers for an annual get together. Feeling tired he makes the decision to take a backroad route believing that the change of scenery will keep him awake.

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It’s late at night & the rest of the family are asleep in the car. The rest of the family are made up of Frank’s wife, Laura (Lin Shaye), their son, Richard (Mick Cain), their daughter, Marion (Alexandra Holden) and her boyfriend, Brad (Billy Asher).

The road is pitch dark & empty so it’s not long before Frank’s eyes begin to droop. Just as he is about to fall asleep he is snapped awake by the sound of a car that he is about to have a head-on collision with. He narrowly avoids hitting the car scaring awake everyone in the car.

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Once things have calmed down, Frank checks the car & finds that there has been no damage so they carry on their journey. As Frank puts it…he’s awake now.

Things seem fine, except for the constant bickering of the trio in the back, until Frank abruptly stops the car believing he saw a woman dressed all in white & holding a baby standing in the woods. Looking around he is suddenly surprised by the woman who appears to be in distress. They try to talk to her but she won’t respond to questions.

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They put her in the car & decide to take her to a cabin they passed a little while back. This is where things begin to go wrong. The less said about the plot from this point, the better as the story is so exciting & thrilling that you don’t want it spoiled.

Dead End is a fantastic horror film. One with just the smallest Christmas hints to add a slight festive feel to it. Not that it matters really as it doesn’t add or detract from the overall experience. There is so much to enjoy here, from the incredible acting to the oppressive environment. Even the ending (somewhat predictable if you’re a regular horror movie watcher) is satisfying & handled impressively.

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With so much of the film spent within the confines of the car, the choice of actors here was so important. The characters aren’t the most original but each actor portrays them fantastically. With particular props going to Ray Wise, Lin Shaye & Alexandra Holden. The portrayal of shock here is simply fantastic.

A tense experience, from the moment the film begins. It hooks you in demanding your full attention, something that is very easy to give.

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That being said though, it isn’t faultless. There are a few moments where silly decisions are made, decisions that don’t really make a lot of sense. For example, Richard walking off into the woods during a stop to have a wank is extremely odd & seemingly only there for a cheap nudity & a jump scare.

However, these moments are easy to overlook as everything else is so well done. A highly impressive feat & one everyone should check out.

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Dead End
  • The Final Score - 8.5/10
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