Horror for the Holidays 5: Dead End. This might be the best Christmas themed horror film I have watched this year. A family takes an annual trip to grandma’s house on Chirstmas Eve. The family, a father (Wise) mother (Shaye) their son and daughter, plus the daughter’s boyfriend. Like many family situations around the holidays, the car ride to grandma’s is very tense. Most of the tension arises after dad decides to take a short cut to grandma’s, one that has never been made in their 20 years of making the trip (you see where this is going)
Weird things start to happen on the road that they are traveling on, first thing- no cars? Complete isolation on an unknown road…freaky. Things really get weird when the family picks up a woman dressed in white holding a baby. The family notices she is injured and welcomes her into their car. Because there are already 5 people, one person must get out and walk back to the rangers station that was passed. While at the rangers station, the characters are dispersed. Mom and Dad in the empty rangers station, son jerking off in the woods to a nudey mag, daughter walking back from where the woman was picked up, and her boyfriend in the car with the mysterious woman. This is where people start dying one by one, for no apparent reason.
The film uses the limited locations to create a chilling sense of isolation. This family begins to feel even more and more alone as they die off. Mind you, these aren’t strangers- this is a family with a long history, for better and worse, which makes their deaths more emotional for the characters. It helps that Shaye and Wise are on the roster because these two actors deliver!
The kills were off camera, and the gore is limited. I enjoyed that the film allowed for my imagination to fill in the gritty details. I think that the best part of the film would have to be the combination of writing/acting. Everything feels so organic. The arguments are personal and jarring at times. Unfortunately my favorite bits of dialogue contain spoilers, so I won’t share those. BUT, if you are looking for a great Christmas horror film that isn’t about killer Santas. This is one of the best out there. 5/5