Friday, April 16, 2010

Review: Nine Dead

Nine Dead (2010)
Genre: Thriller
Format: DVD
Director: Chris Shadney

I don't go out of my way to watch direct to DVD releases but I have found some really good movies from such productions before. These movies don't have that much financial backing to support them and for me, it's always interesting to see how the director worked around the budget limitations. This Saw wannabe is definitely cheaply made and it is obvious that 90% of the money was used to finance the actors and secure a couple of big names from the industry.

This chamber film involves nine people who are handcuffed to separate poles - maybe they were able to rent a room at a strip club? - and the masked kidnapper/killer who sounds just like Jigsaw from Saw wants them to figure out why they are brought together or one person would be killed every 10 minutes. The premise is definitely interesting and for a movie where you mostly stare at the characters' faces as they rhyme and reason to each other, it never gets boring because you are constantly engaged in the mystery. There is an escalating sense of urgency leading towards the revelation and though things do make a lot of sense in the end, it is unfortunate how anti-climactic the whole thing eventually becomes. The movie has one of the weirdest endings I have seen in a long time and I am not even entirely sure if it was intentional or not. I didn't mind it much because of how offbeat it was but I can see a lot of people getting really angry over it.

If you are looking to see blood and clever kills, you won't find those here. Nine Dead is about nine people chatting with each other with that number dwindling down every "10 minutes". The actors did a remarkable job portraying their distinct characterizations despite the goofy setup and there are a number of very funny moments. I'll admit that the only reason why I watched this movie to begin with was to see Melissa Joan Hart: hiring her for a role in this movie did help apparently! I am really surprised that she actually accepted the job because of her usual cutesy typecast. More shocking is the fact that she was hardly recognizable and I truly had to take a second look to make sure that it was really her. I guess it's okay for her to show off a bit of chunk when she's acting in a direct to DVD film. Maybe she's trying to increase her acting repertoire with this film but I am sure she wouldn't like to be associated with taking on the secondary role of a slightly larger friend in the future. It is fun to see her hamming it up though - no pun intended - especially near the end of the movie.

Nine Dead is a shameless but really cheap copy of a well beloved franchise but it has its share of fun. The perpetrator could have strapped each of those nine people in unique torture devices and activate them one at a time every ten minutes: that would have made the movie a lot better. They should have spent the money in creating fancy props than hiring recognizable actors but then I would have missed out on what will be remembered as Melissa Joan Hart's most priceless performance ever!

RATING: 3 out of 5

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