Originally titled “Pain Killer” (before a certain TV show got greenlit by the Sci Fi Channel), “Deaden” stars John Fallon as a former undercover cop who goes apeshit when his former bike gang invades his apartment, assaults him to within an inch of his life, rapes his pregnant wife with a baseball bat, cuts his unborn child out of her belly, and then shoots a crossbow bolt through his forehead. You know, the usual Sunday morning stuff. Relieved of his ability to feel pain with the help of a neverending supply of strong pain killers, and summoning the spirit of a royally pissed off Charles Bronson from “Death Wishes” 1 through 4 (since as we all know, “Death Wish 5: The Face of Death” is complete bullshit), Rane goes on the kind of bloody rampage that would make The Bride from the “Kill Bill” films blush.
If you are wondering if there is more to “Deaden” beyond the plot description above, I can safely assure you that there is not. Which is not an entirely bad thing. There is something to be said about a film’s single-minded determination to present a simple, no-strings attached full-bore action film without all the muss and fuss. In service of that, “Deaden” opens fast, with Rane already in the clutches of his old bike gang led by Ballsy (Marcello Bezina); in short order, Rane’s wife is raped and his child murdered. Rane himself is dump into the river, but a combination of piss and vinegar resurrects him long enough to be rushed to the hospital, where the crossbow bolt is removed — well, except for the piece still embedded inside his head.
“Deaden” then proceeds to track Rane, munching pain killers like candy, as he slaughters his way through Ballsy’s gang, before finally reaching the big man himself in one of those final, bloodbath of a climactic ending that every self-respecting action movie needs, lest their Action Movie Card be revoked on terms of playing it pussy-like. Along the way, Rane runs afoul of his ex-partner Park (Claudia Jurt) and the Montreal police department. Fortunately, our no shit taking anti-hero gets a helping hand from Kersey (Deke Richards), a drugged out buddy who runs a gun shop that he is more than too happy to lend from. (Get it? Kersey? “Death Wish”?)
The result is great fun had by all, dipped in a spicy sauce of random acts of torture, testosterone-fueled brutalizing of the asshole, and of course, the staple of many an action film, good ol fashion bullets to the head.
Directed by Christian Veil (“Samhain”) in what I assume is high-definition digital, and fastened with a low budget and a no-name cast, you’d be surprised just how effective “Deaden” manages to be. Although by no means a horror film, “Deaden” certainly would qualify, if just on the criteria of reckless bloodletting alone. But Rane is no avenging ghost, he’s simply a very pissed off ex-cop with a death wish. Harry Callahan and Paul Kersey should definitely avoid this guy if they came across him in a dark alley. I mean, come on, the guy is walking around with half of a crossbow bolt lodged in his brain. Tell me that’s not hardcore.
Despite having little to work with, Veil and co-writer/star John Fallon remains faithful to their intentions, and despite the film’s abundant gunplay, it’s the hand-to-hand action that is the surprising highlights. This is mostly thanks to the physicality of Fallon, who has the kind of build that makes him perfect for the gritty, brawling fistfight scenes. It’s only when “Deaden” allows its ambitions to overtake its resources that the film falters. A silly sequence involving Montreal’s SWAT team at Kersey’s gun shop comes to mind. I’m sure the idea seemed cool on paper, but the execution screams low budget, and should have been excised completely.
Running at a quick 70-plus minutes, “Deaden” rarely lets up, and fans of visceral cinema should get a big kick out of this one. Fallon and company gets brownie points for knowing what fans want and giving it to them in spades. The blood, the guts, the violence and the hardcore all rolled into one are enough to make you slap your momma. But a word of warning: Those with a weak stomach should stay clear, and the opening minutes of “Deaden” should be a good indication if the rest of the film is for you. Here’s a hint: If you are still watching after the first 10 minutes, then the rest is pure, unadulterated gravy.
Christian Viel (director) / John Fallon, Christian Viel (screenplay)
CAST: John Fallon …. Rane
Deke Richards …. Kersey
Claudia Jurt …. Park
Neil Napier …. Samuel
Kevin Kelsall …. Remy
Marcello Bezina …. Ballsy
Carmen Echeverria …. Hot Tina
Berge Garabedian …. Joe
Anna Jaeger …. Jaimie