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07.23.08

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Phaedra

Dead and Gone

One disc; Lionsgate Home Entertainment; $26.98

By Steve Palopoli


Part 21st-century ghost flick, part gore film, part zombie movie, part '70s backwoods horror and part ... um, insurance-scam thriller, one thing Dead and Gone will never be accused of is conforming to the tired clichés of low-budget indie filmmaking. Writer Harry Shannon and director Yossi Sasson obviously set out to do something different, and in that they more than succeeded. Their debut film behind and in front of the camera (Shannon also has a small role as the seen-it-all sheriff) is so unrelentingly odd it's difficult to even put together the specifics of the plot until the film is almost over. There can be something compulsive about a movie that refuses to give everything away about where it's going, and that's what keeps your head in Dead and Gone. Of course, that's a dangerous game, since the filmmakers have got to pull it together at the end, or it's all for nothing. It's the liking-a-movie-on-layaway plan. For the second half, it looks like all is lost, but the final twists are so weird they seem to complete the movie's overall weirdness just right. Either that, or Dead and Gone is a total mess. Possibly both. The basic idea is that Jack Wade (Quentin Jones) is going crazy out in a cabin where he's taken his wife (Katherine Bates), who's in a coma. We all know that the combination of "going crazy" and "in a coma" gives the filmmakers all kinds of latitude to do loopy stuff, and they do. Is she haunting him from coma land? Is she perhaps not in a coma at all? Why the hell are so many people getting killed? The logic is sketchy at best, but the film's mix of cheap effects, cult cameos (from Tenacious D's Kyle Gass and Sleepaway Camp's Felissa Rose) and relentless wackiness is surprisingly fun.


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