Play Dead15¦ DVD
Just like many of its grotesque leads, the horror genre never dies. Right now, for example, it currently appears to be enjoying yet another renaissance with the return of an old franchise in Scream, and a new one with Ti West’s 'X' for example.
This low budget indie flick is highly unlikely to kickstart a successful franchise, as it sets the horror bar about as low as it gets, making it difficult for even the most stunted of protagonists – like one of those pesky deadly leprechauns say – to even come close to being able to limbo under it.
With the threat of losing the family home hanging over their heads, Chloe (Bailee Madison) and her brother T.J (Anthony Turpel), find themselves in a bit of a financial pickle.
T.J attempts to do something about it, which unfortunately involves a criminal activity, that only gets them further in trouble.
This leads to big sis having to save his bacon, by having to break into a coroner’s office and steal some evidence i.e T.J’s phone. Unfortunately, the only way of getting inside, is to pretend that she’s dead. But as a medical student, she has the knowhow to do just that.
Turns out pretending to be dead was the easy part, as she soon discovers that the coroner (Jerry O’Connell) isn’t exactly on the up and up as far as his career is concerned, and has a lucrative side hustle going. So when he finds Chloe poking her nose in his highly illegal business, he doesn’t take it well, and decides that Chloe just playing dead isn’t enough, and that it needs to be more permanent than that.
The signs of this being a particularly bad are there for all to see, considering its director Patrick Lussier also helmed such duds as 2009’s My Bloody Valentine and 2011’s Drive Angry. It’s fair to say that the years haven’t been kind as far as his creativity is concerned.
As an example of a cat and mouse horror, which finds the young protagonist locked in the morgue with only the dead and the evil coroner for company, it’s both basic and limited. For some reason, this particular coroner’s office has the security of a high risk prison, which seems overkill, considering the majority of those inside are, well, dead.
There are also a surprisingly high number of pressurised canisters throughout the compound, which again, you wouldn’t necessarily expect in a coroner’s office.
This all leads to a number of mundane back and forth scenes, that do little in raising the tension the slightest, and just prolong the agony of the film as a whole.
And as sinister as O’Connell is, you can’t help but feel that the actor has hit hard times if he’s resorting to doing this kind of tat.
It could be forgiven if this was a debut from an up and coming director, just learning the ropes, but Lussier has been more than around the film block now, and really should know better.
With nothing remotely original about it, Play Dead has very little to offer fans of the genre, except perhaps some impressive special effect make-up towards the end. Much like the film’s setting of a morgue, it just has very little life about it.