Dead Cert Blu-ray Review
Directed by Steve Lawson
Written by Ben Shilito and Jonathan Sothcott
2010, Region A (NTSC), 82 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on September 27th, 2011
Craig Fairbrass as Freddy Frankham
Dexter Fletcher as Eddie Christian
Billy Murray as Dante Livenko
Lisa McAllister as Jen Christian
Steven Berkoff as Kenneth Mason
Jason Flemyng as Chelsea Steve
Freddie Frankham is a good business man, a loving husband and a reformed gangster with goals of elevating his reputation and social status by opening a “classy” titty bar in London. Unfortunately, Freddie is not the best judge of character, as he surrounds himself with two types of people, scumbags and dipshits. When a crew of Eurotrash gangsters led by Dante Livenko, disrupts the opening night festivities at the club, Freddie agrees to sit down and discuss the man’s intentions. It turns out Dante wants the place for himself and is willing to wager for the deed. Overconfidence and greed win out as Freddie agrees to a street-fight for the ownership of the club.
Freddie loses everything as his fighter is killed by the opponent and the club switches ownership to Livenko, while our heroes are humiliated and tossed to the curb. What Freddie doesn’t know is that Dante is more than just a rival thug in search of property, but in reality is a 500-year-old vampire known as The Wolf and the land in question is actually sacred and was once the site of a black church. Luckily, the town loony is in possession of the knowledge that London is filled with evil and shouts it to anyone and everyone including our thuggish heroes.
Not to be outdone, the losers return to the club to take back what was once theirs and despite being well armed, are quickly overwhelmed by the surprise that they actually are facing vampires. Many of the gang are either killed or turned and our remaining protagonists lock themselves in the basement. The loony prophet has been hiding downstairs and helps Freddie with tips on how to kill monsters, revealing that the sprinkler system is filled with holy water. The attacks continue and ultimately our heroes emerge victorious…for now.
I think the producers of Dead Cert were sold on the idea that pitting gangsters and vampires against each other would result in box office gold. Both elements have proven successful in the past with audiences flocking to cinemas for Scarface and Twilight, so it was only a matter of time before someone dipped their chocolate in your peanut butter and made a hybrid along the lines of From Dusk Till Dawn…only not as creative or as satisfying as that film was 15 years ago.
There are some clever ideas in Dead Cert, but they are buried under a mountain of unbalanced drivel that slugs along at a glacier’s pace for the first hour before making the clumsy shift to boring vampire suck-fest that runs out the remaining running time. Pacing issues sabotage a nifty idea that could have worked with a stronger cast, but the tedium undermines any attempts at suspense or intrigue. Even when the film shifts into monster mode, the direction remains reserved and prevents the movie from growing any balls and spraying the screen with candy-carnage.
Director Steve Lawson is guilty of the same over-confidence as his protagonist Freddie. Why limit yourself to disappointing fans of one genre when you can fuck up two? Entirely too much time is wasted with a lame set of gangster clichés before the arbitrary switcheroo and Lawson remains just as lost directing a sufficiently frightening horror picture as he was in the crime genre. Screenwriters Ben Shilito and Jonathan Sothcott deserve blame for boring the audience with bland characters that only they find fascinating.
While I am happy to see Shout Factory reaching out to distribute contemporary films in addition to their stellar line-up of genre classics, it is a shame that they have spent so much time and energy to deliver a fantastic disc that is saddled with such tedious content as Dead Cert. Hopefully future acquisitions will be more satisfying, as this is a company that can really deliver the goods and deserves better titles in its catalog.
Video and Audio:
The Blu-ray transfer is both a blessing and a curse for this production, as every cost-saving tactic employed to stretch the budget is on vivid display. Presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the film looks as great as it possibly could, warts and all, but the clarity doesn’t do the source material any favors, since the movie looks pretty cheap at times.
Audio falls into the same trap since technology is not always your friend in the world of low-budget cinema. Why settle for a 5.1 mix when you can go balls-out with an unforgiving 7.1 Dolby digital extravaganza? Dialog is often screechy while occasionally swallowed by some background music tracks. Bass is never really aggressive, but this expanded audio mix is about as impressive as the film it accompanies.
First up, a commentary track features members of the cast and crew marveling at how impressive the movie looks, although at times I am curious as to what film they are watching. There is nothing too informative found here, but everyone seems to be having a nice time and enjoys the finished product more than casual viewers will.
A 30-minute behind-the-scenes featurette offers the usual on-set interviews with cast and crew mugging for the camera and offering nothing but nice things to say about their director and fellow cast members. For anyone who didn’t actually work on the film the running time feels a bit bloated, but while I was never bored by the piece, I didn’t take anything from the experience either.
A theatrical trailer rounds out the special features on this disc.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are not a reflection of the Blu-ray image. They were captured using the standard DVD.*