The owners of Krandle Karpets, a store as drab as its name, have just hired candy munching Jonathan (Dylan Shelton) to manage their business. His sales staff is one of the worst you could imagine. There is Stu (played by the always enjoyable Daniel von Bargen), a man who is having an affair with a married woman and the bottle; Charlie (Glen Lawrence), an utter a*****e who doesn’t seem to have a nice bone in his body; and Marty (Brian Cade), a porn obsessed guy just waiting for his mother-in-law to die. These characters are believable and likable in their own ways, and the actors portraying them do an incredible job.
That’s the plus side.
The story starts out as a bit of a comedy. Krandle Karpets has little in the way of business, as all these salesmen seem to care about is drinking coffee, reading the newspaper, staring at breasts or lamenting about one’s love life. Customers and sales are the last things on their minds. When Jonathan (or Jo Nathan, as a secretary calls him in the opening of the film) steps in, he challenges them to rise above the tedium of carpet sales and actually make the store some money. That’s when the story starts to slowly change. Stu becomes more and more obsessed with his girlfriend, who has broken off the relationship. He knows her husband is beating her, and he wants to kill the man. He is drinking more, and lashing out at his co-workers. Jonathan, meanwhile, is driven to make the carpet store a success. It’s all leading up to something, but what that something is falls apart almost as soon as it is revealed. That’s the minus side.
“Dead Horse” is a fine film … up until the conclusion. It has great actors, fleshed out characters who have stepped out of real life, and some truly funny moments. The story feels right (until the end, at least), and those things alone make it worth watching. The fact that it stumbles so badly is heartbreaking, but that’s the price you pay with a set up this good. Anything less than a spectacular ending is going to taint the final work, and that’s obviously the case here. If you can ignore that, however, you’re left with a quirky, fun little film that almost lives up to its aspirations.