Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Dead Weight (2012)
Post apocalyptic terror seems to be the name of the game lately. With the end of the Mayan calendar upon us, it makes you wonder if filmmakers are purposefully constructing tales around current events. I mean horror has always had a bit of a current events vibe to it through the decades so it's not that much of a stretch. Regardless if this was a motivation for these particular filmmakers or not, the folks behind the indie feature Dead Weight have attempted to do things differently. Instead of focusing solely on a group of people trying to survive in end times (there is definitely that element going on), it's primary focus is on a young man who's seeking to reunite with his love. More pointedly, it asks of the viewer 'How far would you go for someone you love?'
After being introduced to our main character Charlie via his daily morning routine, he receives a frantic phone call from his girlfriend. It seems that something has infected the city and the area around her office building has been quarantined. But she has a coworker who thinks that they can get past the barricade and out of the city. Quickly, they hatch a plan to meet up in a nearby small town where they originally met at a friend's wedding.
Flash forward a few months and we see Charlie as he's now become part of a group of survivors, walking through the countryside to a particular destination that Charlie has planned out. This group has entrusted him with their care and guidance. But as our story plays out, we find that Charlie's motives are not for the greater good of the group and without hesitation, he will use them as fodder for the infected that are roaming the countryside.
Sounds like a fantastic premise right? While the cinematography paints a great picture of the bleakness of it all, the film's major problems are two-fold: the performance of the actors and the really sub-par dialogue. There is very little here by way of gore and grue as we don't see much of the infected and when the group comes under attack, not much is shown of it nor the aftermath. For the most part, this is a character driven film (which is OK by me). But every performance in the film is annoying and non moreso than the one from the lead who plays Charlie. He never comes off as real or genuine but rather some guy his girlfriend should have ditched years ago (read: he's an asshole). You never get a sincere moment from him throughout the course of the film. For a relationship-based film like this, where you are supposed to empathize and be repelled when they eventually do unspeakable things, you have to have strong and believable performances. Nary a one could be found throughout.
In addition, the dialogue was awfully generic and not doing any favors for the onscreen actors. It was so basic that it felt like the script writer's relationships never extended past middle school. There was no depth at all to anyone and the flashback sequences between Charlie and his girlfriend only exacerbated the problem and did little else to shed light on the love that is the focal point of our story. Not too mention the shoddy and just plain bad explanation of how the infection came to be. Instead of adding gravity to the situation, it came off as lazy and half baked.
These factors contribute to a long, drawn-out, and miserable movie watching experience. When you get to the 'shocking' climax after the painfully slow build, you are left with only a feeling of relief that the experience is now (thankfully) over with. A shame, because based on the premise and how the film was set-up, it had some potential.
Cortez the Killer