Brittany Murphy, Thora Birch, Tammy Blanchard, Marc Blucas
Rebecca: You know what I was thinking? Maybe you should write about your own life. Might be therapeutic…
Alice: I have no interest in writing a horror film.
In order to finish writing a screenplay, Alice (Murphy) moves into a big, isolated, spooky house that features creaking doors, dripping faucets, strange voices in the distance, and maybe a ghost or two. When she finds a box of video tapes, a mystery about who previously lived in the house starts to unfold.
Ya know, I’ve liked a majority of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies, but I have to feel a little annoyed with him for making it so popular for other writers and directors to have twist endings that change everything you’ve seen up to that point. If it’s used well, it can be disorienting and enhance the movie. If not used well, as is the case in Deadline, it’s just frustrating and leaves you thinking you’ve just wasted an hour and a half.
There’s some fairly good atmosphere built up early on inside the creepy house that our mentally unstable heroine moves in to. Unfortunately, that’s about all that does happen for quite a while. There’s weird noises, doors slamming, and mysterious phone calls. Alice wanders around the house endlessly and I started to wonder if they just forgot to write a story for this character to be involved in. But finally, she found the box of tapes. It’s obvious what path the characters on the tapes are going down. Lucy (Birch) and David (Blucas) are a young couple expecting a child. Unfortunately, David is a very jealous man, and believes that Lucy cheated on him. For some reason, David records all these arguments and encounters he has with his wife so that we can watch them get increasingly violent throughout the movie.
Their story is very one-note and doesn’t feel compelling at all. And it’s definitely not interesting to watch stone-faced Alice sit there and watch the tapes on her computer, with barely a trace of emotion on display. Sure, she’s on medication, but man is this a dull character. She should be the audience’s eyes into the movie, but her constant blank demeanor creates an emotional riff between audience and character. I just didn’t care a bit about what was going on.
Which, of course, made it difficult for me to find any interest in the big final revelation. Seriously movie, if you’re going to try to pull the rug out from under the audience at the end, at least make sure they’re actually standing on the rug first.
Medication and spooky houses can help you write lame screenplays.
10 – 4.1 for a dull story, further undermined by a twist ending – 1 for some flat acting = 4.9