Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa's "Dead End" has gotten such a healthy amount of press and kudos from genre publications and critics that I half-expected another little gem the likes of a Donnie Darko or Cabin Fever; one of those titles that sneaks up on you with a clever or novel twist on the genre. Sadly, that is not the case with Dead End, a film that is neither clever or novel, and runs for about sixty more minutes than it's script requires.
A family makes their way to grandmother's house for Christmas Eve, traveling a dark and nearly deserted country road. The father (Twin Peaks' Wise) nearly falls asleep at the wheel, and narrowly avoids a collision with another vehicle. However, after the near-miss, strange things start happening, as the family repeatedly encounter a woman in white, and a mysterious driver of a hearse who kidnaps the family members one-by-one, leaving their brutally disfigured remains further up the seemingly endless road.
Dead End is a brutally obvious film, but I won't give the twist away here even though if you don't figure it out in the first five minutes of the movie, you've really no business operating any sort of machinery or vehicle yourself. As I sat there watching the film unfold I really hoped Andrea and Canepa would come up with something-anything-to make the conclusion somehow less obvious than it appeared to be heading, but, sadly, it seems, the duo felt this concept would somehow blow minds the way the similiar "Carnival of Souls" did decades earlier.
The film does have some winning moments of humour and manages to maintain a suitably creepy vibe throughout, but the plot is just so threadbare that it would have worked much better as a short rather than a feature-length motion picture.
Lion's Gate releases the film in a full-frame transfer that is obviously not how the filmmakers meant for the movie to be seen, so I'll reserve judgement on Andrea and Canepa's directorial style until I see Dead End in it's proper aspect ratio. The disc is also devoid of any sort of supplement whatsoever, although, if you do watch the film and like it, the Region 2 release features commentary tracks, making of featurettes, as well as the proper widescreen anamorphic transfer.