Smart, shocking B-movie thrills

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Overall rating:

Score 4

Product:

Dead End

OPENS DECEMBER 12, CERT 15, 83 MINS

Dead end takes a simple Twilight Zone premise and milks it for maximum psycho-nightmare tension. Ray Wise and Lin Shaye play all-American parents who decide to try a new cross-country route during the long drive to visit the in-laws for Christmas. But their diversion somehow flips them over into a desolate and deserted dream landscape where Very Bad Things are lurking?most of them skeletons from the family closet.

This assured directorial debut from French screenwriters Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa is full of cinematic echoes, from Spielberg’s Duel to The Hitcher and beyond. Wise is well chosen for the lingering memory of his role as Laura Palmer’s incestuous killer dad in Twin Peaks, while Shaye hints at the deep madness behind a matriarchal homemaker who simply wants a “normal” family life. As secrets spill, so the visceral gore and black humour escalate. Dead End has had little advance hype or festival exposure, but it’s jammed with nerve-jarring twists that totally rock. A future cult classic in the making.