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David Michael Latt
Eriq La Salle,
Alice, 32, a writer recovering from a psychological breakdown retreats to a remote Victorian house to convalesce and focus on finishing her screenplay in time for a fast approaching deadline. Shortly after her arrival, mysterious noises and strange happenings cause her imagination to run wild, sending her on a twisting and terrifying pursuit to find out what is behind the endless mind games. Frightened but intrigued, Alice gathers the courage to go up into the cold, dingy attic where she finds a shoe box filled with mini-dv tapes. The terrifying secret that lies within the tapes will unravel Alice's dark past.
I got a chance to rent "Deadline" last night and I was pleasantly surprised. "Deadline" is the kind of movie that relies on a sense of dread and atmosphere instead of shocking effects and a display of gratuitous gore in place of genuine scares. It conveys an eeriness that sets it apart from all the other recent movies in this genre. Brittany Murphy and Thora Birch reveal an haunting fragility and vulnerability that suit their characters' pale features and haunted countenance. The story, one that explores the fine line between love and obsession, sanity and insanity, what's real and what's not, leaves a lasting imprint in the mind of the viewer, and a subsequent, thoughtful, reflective summation on our past relationships that covered the same territory, or at least could have.The cinematography is really beautiful, confident and composed. The poignant, classic score elevates the movie to a level way above its modest budget, which according to IMDb was under 2 million. I felt there could have been less score at times, but it creates a powerful emotion at the very end when we realize the extent of Alice's descent into madness. It feels as though the screenplay wasn't developed as well as it could have been as I felt the characters were a little two dimensional at times, and there are a few clichés that could have been avoided, yet it's compelling viewing and really picks up when the B. Murphy character discovers the box of tapes and goes on to investigate the mystery in the house. Overall, the execution is really admirable and there are moments of sheer cinematic beauty as when the B. Murphy slowly goes down the stairs in an eerie, ghostly manner to the haunting Moonlight Sonata concerto by Ludwig Van Beethoven. I don't know if it was the director's intention, but at times it reminded me of A. Hitckock's movies such as "Rebecca" or "Vertigo". It's elegant, classy and if you love intelligent, atmospheric, slow burners like "The Orphanage" or "The Others" then go and rent it.
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