Dead Story Movie Review
Written by Gabino Iglesias
Released by High Octane Pictures
Directed by Suneel Tripuraneni
Written by Suneel Tripuraneni (story) and Bruce W. Durbin
2017, 81 minutes, Not Rated
Kelsey Deann as Anne Harris
Chase Austin as Harold Harris
Jay Bowles as Neil
Sheril Rodgers as Martha
Dead Story is a strange hybrid because it combines lazy writing and a plethora of horror clichés with great sound, solid performances from both main actors, and crisp, clean camera work. In other words, this is a bad movie with good production, and that is a rare thing to find. This is a film that those who made it cared about, and that made me want to care for it just as much. Unfortunately, the same “monster” I’ve seen in many other narratives kept popping up and ruining everything. Ultimately, occupying that bizarre space between good and bad is not enough to make it a memorable experience, although it is enough to make it a painless one, which is not something all horror flicks can say nowadays.
In Dead Story, Anne and Harold are a young couple who move into a new house to start a new life and maybe even have kids. The move adds an hour to Harold’s commute, but Anne seems to be in love with the place. On their first night there, some friends drop by and one tells a creepy story, a “dead story,” about a senseless murder that took place in the abode. Although the story sounds like a joke or small-town folklore, Anne quickly begins to experience strange things while alone in the house. Harold works a lot and Anne is a photographer, so she spends a lot of time by herself, which means that once the visions and scares start coming, they quickly reach intolerable levels. No one believes the young woman, and her fear of ruining her marriage, coupled with the presence of a hateful mother in law, lead to a bloody, inevitable end that proves that ghosts are not only in the realm of imagination.
Yeah, a couple moves into a house, the house is haunted by a vengeful ghost, and bad things happen. You’ve seen this movie a million times. Sadly, the worst part about it in this case is that the folks involved with this particular project did not try to add anything new to the equation. We don’t even get a unique backstory that explains the presence of the vengeful ghost. In fact, in terms of tropes, this movie revolves around one that the genre has forced me to hate: the pale, decaying woman with long black hair on her face, rocking a nightgown that once was white. Seriously, I love The Ring as much as the next horror fanatic, but it’s time to put this lady to rest. Burn her, exorcise her, shove her back down whatever putrid well she came from; I just don’t want to see her in any more horror movies.
Usually, low budget horror is bad when it comes to cinematography because the ideas behind it, the gore and monsters and places they want to show you, are way above what can be achieved with very limited funds. That’s not the case here, and that’s one of the reasons such a weak plot is hard to swallow. The camera work is decent and the actors that play Anne and Harold, Kelsey Deanne and Chase Austin, offer very solid performances. There are also a few effects here and there that let you know the folks behind the camera cared about putting together a good movie and paid attention to detail. The same goes for the sound mixing and some of the stunning outside photography. Unfortunately, there are small details like a disappearing character (not in a mysterious way, just a silly mistake) and the over-the-top acting from the actress who plays Harold’s mom, that take away from the quality level of production and force the movie back down with the rest of the hundreds of forgettable offerings we are bound to get in 2017.