(Movie Review by Bill Paterson) As this is my first review for BeyondHollywood.com, let’s set a few ground rules. First, I don’t use big words just to show you how smart I am. I know lots of fancy words. Like sycophant, for example. But you’re looking for an informed opinion on movies and not my SAT scores. Second, I don’t recommend a film based on popular opinion among snooty reviewers. I don’t care if it wins an Oscar — if I think it blows, I’ll tell you. Third, I don’t give away major plot points. You know, like how that chick in “The Crying Game” is actually a dude.
Now, lets get on to my inaugural review.
We’re talking about the direct-to-video release of “And Then They Were Dead”. Scared yet? You oughta be. See, this is a slasher flick. The script is reminiscent of something Agatha Christie might have written. That is, if she’d been learning disabled. Or a hard-core heroin user.
You know the drill. There’s the “so good it’s amazing” category, the “so bad it’s almost good” level, and the “so bad it gives you irregular heartbeats and lactose intolerance” class. I’m gonna go ahead and assign that last one to “And Then They Were Dead”.
What’s it about? Okay, get your finger quotes ready, cuz we’re talking clich’-fest here. The deal is, a group of unwitting strangers get “anonymous invitations” to visit what turns out to be a “remote mansion.” Where a “mystery host” has planned a “special dinner.” You can probably see where this is going. One by one people leave the table (and occasionally do a little bangin’ while they’re gone) then turn up dead.
The cool thing is, most of them deserve to die. Hard to say whether the actors are annoying or if it’s just their characters. That’s how bad the acting is. Either way, this bunch is asking for it. And, as the phony knife passes at least eight inches above the skin of the first innocent victim — who flinches but doesn’t scream as she is supposedly being butchered — it’s kinda hard to give a crap.
Yeah, this is the cast from hell. The John F. Kennedy high school drama club performing “Our Town” could act circles around these would-be thespians. One guy does all his acting with his eyebrows — they scrunch, they furrow, they pump up and down wildly with each word of dialogue. It’s a feat I’ve not seen attempted by even the likes of Tom Cruise or Brooke Shields.
Now let’s give credit where it’s due. We have Ray Schwetz to thank for this train wreck. Mr. Schwetz wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film. Apparently, he couldn’t quite choose one area to focus on, so he decided to suck at everything. I’m pretty sure the guy means well. You can tell he’s really enjoying himself. Sadly, he’ll be alone in that regard. I wish I could say that with a real production budget he could do more. Unfortunately, the whole concept is just one big fake bloody mess. To the point where Schwetz should not only be banned from making films, I’d go so far as to say he shouldn’t even be allowed to rent any for a year.
I could get into the finer points of the direction, the sets, the production value, etc. But what’s the point? All you really need to know is that any human being who walks erect could top this backwash if he got his hands on a digital video camera. So if you come across this DVD in your local video store, flee from it. I mean run like you would from a rabid squirrel. If you can’t find anything else, just stare at your blank television screen for 82 minutes. You’ll be better off.
Ray Schwetz (director) / Ray Schwetz (screenplay)
CAST: Tina Krause …. Sara
Darian Caine …. Gabrielle
Joe Zaso …. Dr. Mark Reibolt
Devon Mikolas …. Hunter
Sarah K. Lippman …. Anna
Willie Hill …. William