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||IMDB Rating: 5.3/10 from 269 votes
||Release: 30 March 2012 (USA) /
||Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
||Director: Adam Bartlett,
||Stars: Aaron Christensen, Adam Loper, Cheri Sandlin, Fran St. Andre, Jake Martin, Jason Ryf, Jess Ader, Joe Belknap, Mark Muetzel, Mary Lindberg, Matty Field, Michelle Courvais, Reva Fox, Sam Lenz, Steve Herson
||Synopsis: Charlie Russell passes through the wilderness in the wake of an apocalyptic viral outbreak to reunite with his girlfriend, Samantha. As Charlie's journey brings him closer to his destination of Wausau, WI, he must face physical exhaustion, malicious survivors, and perhaps most menacing, his own emotional burdens. With his newfound traveling companions Charlie must attempt to break his obsessions with the past. He must learn to let it go. Written by Adam Bartlett and John Pata
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Charlie (Joe Belknap) is traveling through the wilderness to find his
girlfriend, Samantha (Mary Lindberg), after civilization is destroyed
by widespread biological attacks. He must try to survive while dealing
with other survivors and his own emotional burdens.
The post-apocalyptic world is a well-trod staple of the horror genre.
Some would say, not without good reason, that it has been trod just a
few too many times. But "Dead Weight" succeeds with this theme by
making it the background rather than the foreground of the story. This
is, in fact, a romance story disguised as horror, adding an emotional
level that most horror films lack.
The sheer level of acting talent going into this production is
remarkable. Some of those involved are professionals, who spend their
every waking moment acting. Some (in fact, most) are amateurs, making
their theatrical debut here. And with one or two easily overlooked
exceptions, all the performances come across as strong and bold. I have
seen my fair share of independent films, and this one takes talent to
the next level.
Directing and cinematography are top notch. A few shots seem inspired
by some of the better directors out there, or even bad directors (M.
Night Shyamalan) when they were at their peak. I have lived in
Wisconsin for three decades and have hardly thought of it as beautiful,
but the camera has brought out the best and the bleakest that winter
has to offer, depending on what the scene called for. I am told that
due to snow one scene had to be moved from a field to a barn, but this
turned out to be a stroke of good luck -- the scene in question is
among the most ominous in the film, and a field would be more difficult
to capture the angles and shadows needed for the terror that ensues.
And although the film is quite dark at times (with the threat of
infection, murder or rape always on the horizon) there is just the
right sprinkling of humor in there to keep it from getting too dark,
but not too much humor that the film would devolve into a parody of
itself. The jokes and their delivery seemed inspired by the early films
of Kevin Smith ("Clerks" and "Mallrats"), and based on what I know of
director John Pata, that seems completely appropriate.
Likewise, the balance of "geek" and "non-geek" is pretty stable. The
creators are well-known geeks who thrive in the world of comics and
cheesy movies (which I mean in the nicest possible way). Yet, they
never let this get in the way with endless homages and pointless
references. Yes, Charlie is a comic reader. But he is also a fighter
(you think just because a guy reads comics he can't start something?).
Aside from the "Arnold moment", the film's only real nod is in giving
Samantha the surname MacReady, which I took to be a subtle reference to
"The Thing" (another story about survival in the snow).
I say in my headline that this was "Dawn of the Dead" meets "Blue
Valentine". I think the "DotD" references speaks for itself. But the
"Blue Valentine" reference might not. What really sold the film was the
juxtaposition of Charlie's life getting progressively worse with
flashback shots of it getting progressively better. Not all romances
are good ones (as Lady Gaga has so aptly reminded us). And this film
Sadly, if I have to say anything bad about the film it is in the
chemistry. Joe Belknap was great as a survivor and was an admirable
lead character, a flawed and tragic anti-hero. But his chemistry with
Mary Lindberg was just not there... the weakest scenes are the two of
them interacting. Lindberg was great in every moment, but Belknap
seemed to struggle with how to present himself as a boyfriend.
All in all, a strong first showing from Pata and Bartlett (ignoring the
shorter, funnier "Better Off Undead"). Whether they are planning to go
for a big distribution deal, or quickly dive into their next project, I
wish these two the success they deserve. Until now, the best thing to
come out of Wisconsin was the beer and cheese. "Dead Weight" gives
those two fattening staples a run for their money.
Tags for Dead Weight Full Movie
, Adam Loper
, Cheri Sandlin
, Fran St. Andre
, Jake Martin
, Jason Ryf
, Jess Ader
, Joe Belknap
, Mark Muetzel
, Mary Lindberg
, Matty Field
, Michelle Courvais
, Reva Fox
, Sam Lenz
, Steve Herson
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