Synopsis: Christmas Eve. On his way to his in-laws with his family Frank Harrington decides to try a shortcut for the first time in 20 years. It turns out to be the biggest mistake of his life.
Being stuck in a vehicle with your immediate family as you travel to spend time with loved ones during the holidays is hardly a joyous experience. The cramped space in which you have to share the backseat with your younger sibling and boyfriend as Mom and Dad desperately try to keep the mood festive with horrible renditions of Christmas carols end up damaging what little holiday spirit you might have. Now imagine instead of going over the river and through the woods dear old dad decides take an alternate route to Grandmother’s house and in his obsession with keeping everyone jovial fails to realize that no time has passed even though it seems he’s been driving for hours and when looking at the clock on the dashboard time has eerily stood still. The endless road stretches further and further there are no other cars coming from either direction but hey it’s Christmas Eve why would anyone else be traveling? At any moment the driveway leading to Grandma’s should finally appear but the fuel gauge is quickly beginning to inch closer towards empty.
Over the course of the last ten days of Schlocktoberfest I’ve offered a fairly straight forward opinion on whether I like a film or like something that has spoiled ends up making me feel violently ill. There’s been black or there’s been white but there hasn’t been any gray area… until now. The problem with Dead End isn’t the near flawless plot execution or the wonderful blend of talented actors who bring depth and dimension to the characters they are playing. It’s definitely not the filmmakers themselves who studied the masterful Rod Serling approach of drawing audiences into a Twilight Zone-esque universe of second guessing. Go ahead and look directly at the film title itself then start throwing a few wild guesses out there in terms of what road the story is going to travel down. Sadly not even the legendary Ray Wise dropping the gut busting hilarious line ‘You handle that lug wrench like a whore handles a baby!’ could make up for blundering the groan inducing Dead End moniker. Next time why not give Captain Obvious a call and see if he’d be willing to take a crack at it. Despite such a glaring blemish I’ll still give Dead End at least one recommended viewing considering there’s still a decent amount of passion to drive it forward.
Final Grade: C