Written and directed by Paul C. Hemmes, Dead Enders is a turn on the “kidnap and torture” horror subgenre, with a psychotic woman playing the bloodlusty predator. Sydney (Christie Collins) is damaged after the death of her former lover, Max (who also appears to be haunting her), and she sees fit to take out her sadness via violent aggression on anyone who wanders into her path, which is bad news for Robert (Seth Gandrud), the buff guy she sees at a bar and decides to kidnap and torture in her basement lair.
Nevermind the implausibility that Sydney was able to drug and somehow carry Robert out of the bar back to her place, Robert wakes up in a cage, the victim of Sydney’s sinister, violent tendencies. The majority of the film takes place with Robert escaping and getting recaptured while Sydney murders random people in the meantime (with a brief break for some necrophilia). Through it all there’s a weird, possibly demonic presence also sharing space in the basement.
Let’s face it, this is Christie Collins’s show, and her Sydney is equally devious, unhinged and dangerously attractive all at the same time. You understand how someone could find themselves as victim to her insanity… but that’s about as far as the believability in this one goes. Sure, it’s a horror film and a certain extra suspension of disbelief is often granted, but I had so much trouble wrapping my head around how someone as seemingly strong as Robert was consistently subdued and held captive. I’m willing to accept that maybe the main problem was the intervention of the demonic presence in the film (looking like the rubber-masked equivalent of an Iron Maiden album cover), but maybe casting could’ve gone in the direction of someone a little less powerful-looking for its main victim.
Beyond that, the various other kills and victims seem thrown into the film for just that reason: the film needed more kills and victims, since the hero of the piece is a captive and not about to be murdered anytime soon. Which is fine, I get it, but I would’ve liked more narrative cohesion or purpose with all the victims. Make me care something, otherwise I’m just waiting for the scene to end so I can get back to the main story.
Dead Enders has strong intentions, and you get the feeling that it really wants to deliver something strong and shocking, but it just doesn’t pull it off for me. It has a healthy amount of gore (though it definitely could’ve pushed that envelope more too), some horror-friendly nudity and it is refreshing to have a lady villain delivering the torment and torture, but it’s not something I would watch again.
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