A movie directed by Eli Roth
I don’t get it, no wait do get it. No wait . . . now I understand, I got it, I just don’t care.
Bear with me for a moment and a metaphor. My knitting skills did what skills do when you leave them alone. I’ve been working on the same scarf for ages and it isn’t getting much longer because I keep making mistakes that tick me off, so I unknit back to a known good spot and continue. Well now I’m just doing a sort of knitting reset and picking up the pattern again rather than unknit back to the . . .
Oh wait, yea, this is a movie review. See how engaged I was?
Alice Evans is on a deadline to write a screenplay. She goes to a country estate, presumably offered to her by the producer who wants more than the screenplay. Her friend Rebecca drops her off but is very concerned. Apparently, Alice has had a bit of a stressful life of late and Rebecca is less than convinced that a week alone in the country with nothing but her mind and laptop are such a good idea. They wander the house a bit together. In one huge room there is nothing but a babycrib (odd). And this makes Rebecca, again, advise Alice not stay there because she would only make herself crazy again. Rebecca finally leaves.
Within seconds the clichés reach their cruising altitude of 32,000 feet, ladies and gentlemen we will be touching down in Obviousville where the time will be exactly what you expect; there may be a little turbulence ahead because the writer seems to have tried to throw a little confusion our way, not to worry, we should pass through that pretty much as you would expect . . .
Alice tries to convince herself that the noises are just noises but cannot halt the urge to do the standard digging around a spooky house. She finds (or is shown in a ghastly sort of way) a shoebox with videotapes. They show a couple that had lived in the house before, Lucy and David Woods.
The videos start tame enough. We discover that the Woods are newly married, then that they are newly pregnant, then that [yawn] David might be crazy. The more Alice watches the videos, the more unbalanced she becomes which means that the story, told mostly through her eyes, becomes more disjointed. Or just poorly edited.
First piece of advice: do not name your movie something as hackneyed as Deadline unless it has the goods, otherwise the name will be fodder to stuff like “Deadline is dead” or “Deadline flatlines.” Each means the same thing: I wasted my time.
Since it took about 5 minutes to know the story, I thought why not pay attention to the things we sometimes miss when actually entertained. The camerawork, sound, and the sudden “AAAAHH” moments were predictable to the frame. I think you can call up Sony pictures and get a standard package: The non-bloody horror movie in an old mansion; a cast of four—ah you want the budget package then—o and no pretty teenagers, that cuts you in for another discount, are you sure you don’t want to rethink this pretty teenage thing—it’s usually worth the extra . . . no? Ok, well this means we throw in the skeleton sitting in the wheelchair for free. We guarantee it will make the film for you. We must warn you, though, if you change any of the settings, you know, try to be clever and switch something up, the equipment will fail—it is programmed only for the non-bloody spook pic with no hot kids ONLY. Otherwise, all you need to do is make sure Ms. Murphy doesn’t get her latte and you’ll have a movie on the big screen in no time. Yes these technical aspects are honestly that overdone.
Brittany Murphy (Alice) is not a strong enough actor to carry a movie. She is never convincing and her attempts to look crazy really just look like she’s staring at a laptop screen after just waking up and realizing that she is out of good coffee and there is no car to go to Starbucks and there is no Starbucks in a hundred miles. I can be convinced that she’s jonzin for caffeine but not that she’s insane. But what is truly horrific is that, as tradition demands, Alice begins to channel the Lucy she sees in the videos. As she puts on lipstick and tries to look alluring, she looks like a low rent prostitute (also in need of a Starbucks).
Marc Blucas (David) and Tammy Blanchard (Rebecca) are plot devices, not characters—one has to hope they were paid SAG wages and not based on being the equivalent of a piece of furniture.
Thora Birch (Lucy Woods—yea I noticed the tree reference too) is actually good. I don’t need to say any more except that it is best for you not to check behind me to see if I’m right.
Deadline can’t even suck right. The makers rented a “this movie sucks” package so even that part comes straight out of the box.
What did you think of this review?
A movie directed by Eli Roth
Horror film released in 2004, directed by James Wan