Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dead and Gone (2008)

It seems that the last few months haven’t favored me with very many good indie films. Perhaps I just haven’t seen enough (or seen the right ones), but I really think there has been a decrease in quality lately. So when I set out to watch Dead and Gone, another independently-helmed film, I didn’t have high expectations. In fact, I was a little apprehensive about the film, especially after seeing its pretty generic artwork.

Dead and Gone started out clichéd enough, with a crazed man in a remote cabin killing off his entire family…and then we flash forward several years later to hunky boy toy Jack (Quentin Jones) moving into the same decrepit cabin with his comatose sugar mama, Frankie. Frankie was once a big-time Hollywood executive and promised to make Jack a big star, but right after they got married she had a freak plastic surgery accident and has been in a coma ever since. What money medical bills didn’t eat up her family took, so with bills mounting Jack fled to the only place he had left…a remote cabin he had won in a poker match. What Jack didn’t realize was the cabin’s macabre history. With his only visitors being a pretty redheaded constable named Kate (Gillian Shure) and a hick delivery boy (Ben Moody), Jack starts to go a little stir crazy. He believes Frankie is still conscious and has been faking the coma all along. He smothers her with a pillow, but even after death she haunts him. Nothing can stop these appearances by her, where she taunts and teases Jack more and more until he slips further and further into dementia.

Yup, this is another “slowly driven mad” movie, but it’s not at all typical. Dead and Gone takes a much more darkly comedic tone than most psychological indie thrillers. The characters are slightly kooky and a bit over the top, including cameos by Kyle Gass of Tenacious D as a televangelist and Felissa Rose as Jack’s on-the-side girlfriend. There is plenty of black humor to keep you interested during the film’s slow burning first half, but the pace really picks up when Jack snaps and starts killing people, all to the tune of Frankie’s wiseass remarks.

Director Yossi Sasson has really created a different little film here despite the small budget. He utilizes strange angles and a dank and depressing atmosphere to set the sinister, nightmarish mood of the film. Though the story, written by Harry Shannon, doesn’t seem all that unique on the surface level, if you dig a little deeper you will see that it features some hilarious dialogue and a very dark plot with a few twists here and there.

Indie films aren’t necessarily known for their stellar acting, but here the cast holds up fairly well. Quentin Jones as the spiraling-out-of-control Jack does a fantastic job (and he’s a real treat to look at, too). Kathrine Bates works wonders as Frankie, delivering her lines with a knack for comedic timing. Gillian Shure seemed a little over-eager in her portrayal of Kate, but if my leading man looked like Quentin Jones, I’d be awfully eager, too! The rest of the cast does a commendable job, just be prepared for some over-the-top performances throughout the kooky story.

As for the gore, there is plenty of that if you’re patient and can wait until the second half of the film. That’s when limbs go flying every which way! Be warned, though, while practical effects are wisely used most of the time, there is some questionable CGI used that may be a distraction to the film. Still, the practical effects are solid and the makeup effects on the dead corpses look amazing as well. To boot, there are even a few scenes that’ll make you jump!

I haven’t seen very many good indie flicks lately, but Dead and Gone has certainly broken my slump with its fun, darkly comedic story and blood-drenched finale. If you’re looking for a solid indie flick to check out, this is IT!

Available on Amazon!

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