Out on VOD this May, High Octane Pictures will release Dead List, a horror movie that sees a struggling actor curse his fellow competitors using a demonic book.
Calvin (Deane Sullivan) is desperate for a major movie role and will stop at nothing to get it. Forced to compete with five other actors and after a poor audition he comes across an ancient book that he uses in the hope of gaining the part.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t know the power he has unleashed as each of his competitors are killed off. Spilt into chapters with each one detailing the events that befall them, Dead List plays out like an anthology in the style of Tales of the Crypt.
Calvin’s part of the story is the framing device with each chapter making up the bulk of the story. While this works as a way of linking the stories, the tone between each one is so wildly different that they do end up feeling like short films themselves.
The mood and pacing can vary wildly from segment to segment. It’s hard to see just who Dead List is aimed at. You have puzzling tension-based shorts where one actor suddenly realises that he is deaf followed by an absolute gore fest with another literally melting in a pile of visceral mess. The tone is all over the place and it can make for a difficult watch. Especially as the timeline is jumbled up too.
It can make it a tough to follow, not something that should be happening in an anthology film.
The acting is hit and miss. Some are great but others come across as though they’re reading their lines off cue-cards. Most seem to struggle when it comes to furthering the plot. Although once in peril most step up their game delivering performances that make their terror very believable.
Where Dead List does excel is with some of its effects (for a low-budget horror) and even the occasional good scare. The chapter that revolves around the old lady in the road is extremely unsettling and creepy.
It does runs out of ideas at the end though as a killer clown is introduced. Then recycled for the finale. The clown is creepy for about a minute but is over-used denting its impact. Especially by time it starts making balloon voodoo dolls to kill off the final few. It ends up coming across rushed. A pity as up to this point it was a fairly inventive horror.
Dead List misses the mark too many times to be remembered as a great low-budget horror anthology. A bit more coherence in the plot, better pacing and deeper characters would have made the world of difference. That being said it does have genuinely good moments.