Blu-ray Review: The Dead Center (2018)

October 13, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Medical examiner Edward Graham (Bill Feehely) has been tasked with examining a John Doe (Jeremy Childs) suicide… which would be rather routine except for the fact the body has fuckin’ disappeared… well “disappeared” is the wrong word; more like “resurrected” and wandered away… as one does.

Eventually our very confused former corpse lands himself in ye olde psychiatric hospital and under the care of Dr. Daniel Forrester (Shane Carruth)… a rather unorthodox medical professional who has raised the ire of the higher ups.

Forrester does his best to deduce Doe’s boggle (namely insane-o mood swings unmanageable by normal methods), but he naturally could never guess that this dude has gone loco because he’s now a walking impossibility… and worse yet; those that get close to Doe are beginning to die. Will Graham (who won’t let a missing corpse lie) and Forrester solve these supernatural shenanigans before the body count rises?

The Dead Center is one hell of a slow-burn sombre affair. This is a psychological thriller/drama at it’s core, but that’s not to say that the supernatural angle gets short shrift (especially in Act 3); rather things are kept as believable as possible, no matter how outre events become.

Adding to this are weighty, rock solid performances with Feehely and Carruth making for engaging and grounded protagonists, and Childs displaying a range that completely sells everything from catatonic to sympathetic, to explosively violent all in equal measure.

Also of note is how effectively the narrative (courtesy of writer/director Billy Senese) changes from deliberately paced mystery to more explosive action as the intensity of the situation ramps up considerably in the third act… with flashy, stylized visuals to boot. This simple changing of aesthetics conveyed the growing nightmare superbly without relying on a billion dollars of visual effects.

While the film itself is a solid supernatural shocker, the extras present on the Arrow Video release are a match for the quality of the main event. First up we get two audio commentaries one featuring Senese and the cast, and the other the director and crew. Both are excellent listens and bring the production of the film to light in an engaging and anecdote packed manner. Following those comes an incredible, in-depth “making of” documentary that examines the production in granular detail, a selection of deleted and alternate scenes, interviews with actors Carruth (two in fact, both in different styles) and Poorna Jagannathan, a look at the casting of Childs’ head for effects work, short films; Intruder and The Suicide Tapes (the latter of which inspired The Dead Center), a collection of radio plays by Senese, trailers, teasers, and image galleries, as well as reversible sleeve featuring new and original artwork, and a collectors booklet featuring new writing on the film by film critic Jamie Graham.
The Dead Center is one of the best preternatural pictures out there at the moment, and will surely satisfy horror hounds looking for a more cerebral take on the material… highly recommended!




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