DEAD END is an excellent and under appreciated independent Horror film that slipped through the cracks in 2003. It follows a family down an isolated back woods road on Christmas Eve while on their way to their grandmother's house. After a near collision, they continue traveling for hours without passing any other cars or towns. Each time they stop to check the map or use the phone, another member befalls a terrible fate as they continue down the road to no where. Though the reveal is entirely predictable from the beginning of the film, it is the path getting there that is the most enjoyable. The bickering family members reveal multiple layers of emotion and intimate secrets as their predicament grows from bad to worse, establishing rich dialogue and rounded characters. Ray Wise and Lin Shaye both provide stellar performances as the parents in what should be considered each of their best roles to date. The dark and desolate setting mixed with chilling sound FX sets a sinister tone as the family's calm demeanor begins to slip away. While there isn't much gore, there are several brilliantly crafted moments of suspense and true horror that are both shocking and unnerving. Considering the majority of the film takes place within the confines of the family vehicle, DEAD END must rely on the strength of its characters to draw the audience in. It achieves this and more, and ranks very highly on my list of independent Horror films from the last decade.
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