Friday, June 29, 2012

Deadtime Follows a Well Worn and Bloody Path: A Movie Review

*full disclosure: an online screener of this film was provided by Midnight Releasing.

Director: Tony Jopia.

Writer: Stephen Bishop.

Cast: Laurence Saunders, Carl Coleman, Elisabeth Shahlavi, Alex Marieka Hanly, Leslie Grantham, Terry Christian, and Joe Egan.

The United Kingdom shot Deadtime is about a band trying to find a comeback. In a dilapitated studio in Birmingham, they find a serial killer instead. The cliches abound is this small film. From an isolated locale to no cell phone service, you have seen this style of filmmaking and writing before. Fortunately, some late prose and instances of overacting create for a few light moments.

The story follows Love Meets Murder, a band struggling with a lack of popularity. Their last outing did not bring in the revenue. Now, they are relegated to a back water studio where they hope to record some new singles. Once at the locale, they sing and gyrate like a group of monkeys on smack. Most of the band is actually on cocaine. This is rock and roll after all where the fast life and selling records are all that matters.

A serial killer enters the picture at some point. Apparently, he/she does not like Love Meets Murder either. So, the groupies are the first ones offed. Then their on again off again boyfriends find a sharp knife. Soon, there are not enough bandmates left to film videos or record music.

And most of the bandmates fall victim not just to a knife but to horror tropes. The first instance of a cliche begins with an isolated locale. The recording studio is miles away from anywhere else and no one will hear the victims scream. Conveniently, there is no cell phone service because of sound proofing in the building. The cliches continue. The killer wears a hood a la Jason Voorhees from Friday the 13th. A paper bag or potato sack hides the murderer's identity. Now, the cast is reduced to a few as there is just no way over a 10' high brick wall. Could no one find a ladder? Finally, the killer is wounded, but no one checks to see if he/she is actually dead. A killer has maimed eight of your friends yet you don't check to see if the killer is actually finished. This seems strange, no?

This is indie UK horror after all. So, there are scenes with lots of prose. Explanations are wonky and the acting is over-the-top. Can't a killer just kill because he/she likes it? Does there really need to be a long explanation of romance gone wrong? The writer, Stephen Bishop, would say yes. And the killer's motivations are thin. The accents from the cast might make eyes roll as the West Midlands droll overextends simple words. This is UK horror where dialogue matters while plots are secondary.

Deadtime has a great soundtrack and the ending is suitable; however, the acting in this picture is so-so, blood effects are shown with CGI and the story is only slightly above average. The rock and roll soundtrack fades in and out in lively fashion. The music from Ridley Scott's Gladiator seems to show up at strange times as well. On the positive side, the villain's final death is glorious and suitable for the Rock and Roll Hall of Horror Shame. On the negative side, this is indie filmmaking where actors and actresses are rarely professionally trained. Only actors Laurence Saunders and Adam Fray offer anything extraordinary. Thankfully, the film relies heavily on these two through the film's second half. The writing for the film offers one character reveal, but motivations, as stated, are thin. Also, characters do not seem to have an impetus to escape death. They have sex when the killer is about and they do not seem willing to climb a small wall. Is your fictional life worth so little?

This film can only be recommended to those who enjoy the serial killer genre and all of the cliches therein. Those looking for something unique will need to skip this entry into the horror genre. Believable this film is not. But, there are a few laughs to be found here as one character is there to steal the show. And, he/she does this in a bloody fashion!

Overall: 6.5 out of 10 (lots of tropes, characters are mostly flat, one setting, good finale, funny final scene).

*releases July 24th on DVD through Midnight Releasing.

**this film was considered controversial in the UK for showing scenes of gore. These scenes are included on the N. American release.

The film's fan page is found here:

Deadtime on Facebook

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