February 13, 2015 Dead Within (Movie Review)
Psychological thriller Dead Within made its premiere at on August 23rd at the 2014 London FrightFest. Directed and produced by Ben Wagner (Southbounders 2005, 6:00 2010), the film was acquired by Millennium Entertainment in July of 2014 with a DVD release date of September 9, 2014. A basic script was written by producer Matthew Bradford (Quest for the Ring 2001, Return to Middle Earth 2002), while the music was done by first timers Joshua Bradford and Clayton Worbeck, and visual effects done by Jamey Clouse (Revisioned: Tomb Raider television series 2007, Good Vibes television series 2011). There is a prequel web series available on the movie’s web site that answers a lot of questions about the initial outbreak. Shot primarily in a seventy-two hour, round the clock session, the actors and crew were isolated in the cabin and only given the barest of scripts, with most of the second act being improvised by the actors.
Opening with a dinner party, Mike (Dean Chekvala: True Blood 2011, People Like Us 2012), Kim (Amy Cale Peterson: I Hate L.A. 2011, Southlanders 2005), Todd (Rick Federman,:Spring Break Massacre 2003, Matrimonium 2005), Erika (Sarah McMaster: Fred & Vinnie 2011, Retail Therapy 2012), and Todd and Erika’s baby (non-credited), the film skips ahead six months later after a zombie outbreak has nearly wiped out the human race. Mike and Kim, seemingly lone survivors, have locked themselves in a remote cabin, struggling to stay alive. As food and other resources get low, Mike ventures out to collect all of the resources he can find. Every time Mike leaves, Kim asks to accompany him, but Mike does not want to risk her becoming infected, thus insisting she stay in. With each trip out, Mike ventures farther and farther away to collect the supplies needed.
While alone, Kim is left to her own paranoia as she becomes haunted by the visions of Erika, Todd, and the baby becoming infected. While Mike is out, Kim has multiple interactions with someone by the name of Ranger Mark (J. Claude Deering: The Ugly Truth 2009, Side Effects 2013) via a walkie-talkie. While Ranger Mark is at times verbally abusive to her, it seems Kim at least takes some comfort that there are others out there. One day upon Mike’s return from scavenging, Kim can see his hands are injured and fears he is infected. Kim refuses to let Mike in the cabin, which enrages him. Is Mike infected? Will this be the end of him, as well as Kim?
Dead Within will definitely make the audience think, as it is a film which gives an insightful look into the psychological effects of being trapped in a confined space over time. The camera work of Brian Burgoyne, Abby Linne, John Snedden and staff is very different, yet enjoyable to watch. With an extremely small cast that does a brilliant job, the plot is very fast paced, and at times could be perceived as confusing. Perhaps the prequel web series will clear things up for some viewers. Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable watch for Horror fans to indulge in and is more than an average zombie post-apocalyptic film. CrypticRock gives Dead Within 3 out of 5 stars.