Reviewed by Killer Kelly
The Dead Ones – For four outcast teens, summer detention means being assigned to clean their high school after a horrific incident. But they are not alone; a macabre gang wearing guises of The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse – Famine, Pestilence, War and Death – has locked them inside and is hunting them through the school’s ravaged hallways. As the four students battle to survive, each must confront the supernatural echoes of past traumas they have struggled to forget…and may be condemned to relive.
The storyline was great. It was a good idea and although confusing at the beginning, does get better as it progresses. Soon after The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse show up (which is right at the beginning) their identity becomes pretty clear. Whether their unveiling was meant to be a big dramatic twist at the end, I’m not sure, but the ending DOES have a cool turn of events.
The acting was pretty good too. Mouse (Harper), lives up to her namesake. Timid, non-confrontational and just trying to get through their ordeal without issue, she still proves to be a significant character throughout. Scottie (Wilson) plays the tough guy. He’s hot-headed, but able to use logic when required. Louis (Garza) is the polar opposite. Wild and impulsive, he acts first, thinks later. Yet, he does share Scottie’s short temper which becomes more problematic as the movie progresses. Emily (Foster) is a tiny bit cuckoo and no longer taking her meds. This becomes evident from the outset with her erratic behaviour.
All four play their roles well and, despite the odd eyebrow-raising dialogue choice, are pretty convincing. Clare Kramer, who many will recognise from Buffy, plays the teacher overseeing the students.
There were some continuity errors throughout. The pic above, showing the poor student losing control of her bladder, is a prime example. The scene after this shows her with dry trousers, then again with sodden trousers but wet patches in different places. You might argue I’m being pedantic but I don’t sit there looking out for these errors. It was just too brazen to ignore. Better editing would have identified/remedied this but it’s not something I’d class as a major flaw.
There were some great effects throughout this movie that deserve a mention. Certain injuries and ailments looked real enough and for a low budget flick that’s pretty commendable. There’s also guts, gore and a whole load of firepower which, as you can guess, can produce some pretty nasty-looking injuries. However, in the same breath, there was just way too much CGI for my taste. Call me old fashioned, but I much prefer props and makeup over computer generated stuff, especially when the CGI is painfully obvious. For instance, the ghosts that frequently appear. Their movement and actions are creepy as hell. But, the excessive CGI just curtails the scare factor and takes away the immersiveness of the movie.
The prospect of a school shooting might seem a bit close to the bone for some. However, Director/Writer Kasten has provided the following statement;
“This is my sixth and most personal film: a ghost story about a school shooting. It doesn’t shy away from violence, either emotional or physical. It’s explicit, but not exploitative; instead it takes risks and invites discussion. I was warned that a movie about a school shooting might engender unavoidable reaction, but I’ve always believed it’s important for genre films – despite their often-graphic intensity – to be relevant. I shot The Dead Ones in my hometown of Baltimore where I knew I could capture the gritty quality I wanted. To cast the local teens, I worked closely with Pat Moran,
who produced John Waters’ early films and went on to win multiple Emmys as a casting director.
As our main location, we found a decommissioned public school that had been built in the 1930s. Working with young actors to
elicit emotionally gruelling performances on an ambitious production with a limited budget was the best possible reminder of the challenges – and rewards – of being a genre filmmaker. Although it’s set in the aftermath of a high school shooting, my intention never was – or will be – to trivialize
this real-life horror that increasingly plagues our world. Instead, I wanted to create a disturbing reflection of modern adolescence. The Dead Ones is a film with a message of hope for outsiders.”
— Jeremy Kasten
About the Director
Jeremy Kasten is an American film director, producer, screenwriter and editor, best known for his visceral, cerebral, and often psychedelic approach to modern horror. His 2001 directorial debut THE ATTIC EXPEDITIONS, starring Seth Green, Alice Cooper, and Ted Raimi, has been hailed by Dread Central as “one of the best mind-f#@k movies ever.” His 2007 neo-noir re-imagining of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ splatter classic THE WIZARD OF GORE starred Crispin Glover, Brad Dourif, and Jeffrey Combs was called “one of the most shocking, entertaining and best horror films of the year” by Film Arcade. Kasten has also contributed to the acclaimed horror anthology films THE THEATRE BIZARRE and THE PROFANE EXHIBIT. His other features include the 2005 zombie thriller ALL SOULS DAY: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS and the 2006 ‘vampirism as addiction’ shocker THE THIRST, which was called “the bloodiest vampire movie ever” (DVD Crypt).
In summary, I’d definitely recommend The Dead Ones. Whilst there are minor elements I wasn’t a fan of, the movie as a whole was pretty good. Great storyline, believable acting and a fair few nice effects. What more could you want? The only thing you need to be conscious of is the sensitive nature of its theme. Other than that, check it out!
Here’s the trailer.
The film will be available on DVD/Blu-ray and VOD/Digital on September 29, 2020 via Artsploitation Films.
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