Alice is a frustrated writer. She wants to finish her current project, but the distractions of her lifestyle continue to interrupt her. She cannot find an end to her story unless she finds an escape. Believing that she has found her muse, Alice books time at a remote mansion; away from the city and her lover, Becca. Believing that the abandoned old house will help to isolate her from distraction, she heads out with her camera, her laptop, and her phone.
It isn’t long before Alice begins to experience bizarre feelings. She sees images that startle and intrigue her. After all, she’s a writer. She should be curious. Alice is accustomed to the stressed and demanding calls of her publicist and agent. Once the calls start coming from the great unknown, she begins to question where she stands. Every hall of the mansion beckons to her, and Alice must fight for control as she digests the visions before her eyes. She is continually drawn to the bathtub that always seems to drip.
After searching the house, Alice finds a set of strange videotapes, labeled with ambiguous titles like “Lucy Cooking Dinner.” The tapes feature the couple who occupied the house, David (Buffy’s heroic Marc Blucas) and his wife, Lucy (“American Beauty” star Thora Birch). David recorded almost every interaction between them. He begins with the premise of recording things for the future. Alice watches hours of footage. Each tape reveals David’s paranoia. He becomes more and more convinced that Lucy is cheating on him. He begins to become obsessed with controlling her, and when Lucy tries to leave, he makes certain they will never be apart.
The film builds to a heartfelt conflict between the known and unknown, keying entirely on what Alice has seen and what she believes.
“Deadline” is an okay film, driven by the performance of its lead actress. I regret, as do many of my peers, the early passing of Miss Brittany Murphy. She anchors this film, and contributes to its success. Additional actors like Blucas and Birch put on serviceable performances, but are given very little to work with. Murphy’s flexibility keeps this film above the mediocrity bar. There are surprisingly little special effects, but the 5.1 Dolby digital sounds great.
Extras include Behind the Scenes footage, along with previews and subtitles.