Deadly End (2005)

Deadly End (2005)
AKA Neighborhood Watch

Starring Jack Huston, Pell James, Nick Searcy, Terry Becker, Anina Lincoln, Meredith Morton, John Ennis, De Anna Joy Brooks, Irwin Keyes, Randall Bosley, Gil Glasgow, Janice Davies, Tim Devitt

Directed by Graeme Whifler

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

Like Vengeance of the Dead, Full Moon picked up Deadly End for distribution and re-titled it. The original title was Neighborhood Watch, and it is much more fitting than whatever Deadly End is supposed to signify. Regardless which title you prefer, Deadly End is probably the strongest film to be released by Full Moon during the 2000s. I know that isn’t saying much because of Full Moon’s relatively lackluster offerings during that time, but I’m confident that Deadly End would shine in any of Full Moon’s eras. The film’s budget is minimal, but the ingenuity and the craft on display is anything but. It’s really a shame that director Graeme Whifler — who also wrote Sonny Boy and co-wrote Dr. Giggles — didn’t go on to make any other features, as Deadly End is a strong, memorable debut.

Bob Petersen (Jack Huston) and his wife Wendy (Pell James) have moved across the country to a seemingly normal neighborhood in the Californian desert. One house has multiple “Keep Out” signs and barricades, and another has derelict appliances in the front yard, but as someone who lived in that area for about 30 years, I can attest to this not being too far outside the norm. But nothing is normal or innocent in this particular film, and things get dark fairly quickly. Before that turn, though, we meet Bob and Wendy during their first night in their new home. In their underwear, they crawl on the floor around a maze of boxes, flirtatiously meowing to each other. Not your average foreplay, but hey, it’s their house and they can do what they want. When they’re done playing cat and mouse cat, the couple passionately makes love. In these moments, the precious, deep love they have for one another is tangible. The scene is surprisingly affecting and erotic, not so much in a titillating way, but in accurately replicating the reality of a moment’s passion between two loving people. It is undeniable, and it is pure, and for the remainder of the film, this innocence will be systematically attacked and tested.

At this point in running Silver Emulsion, I’ve seen hundreds of low-budget films of varying quality. It’s rare to find one with a truly well-written script, and the same goes for things like quality acting, solid direction and effective special effects work. Deadly End delivers on all of these fronts superbly, to the point that I’m surprised the film doesn’t have a bigger fan base (or a fan base at all). Glancing at reviews shows mostly negative opinions, as well, something that really baffles me given the quality of the film’s cost-effective, low-budget filmmaking. Nick Searcy is superb as the neighbor Adrien, followed closely by Pell James’s performance as Wendy. Given the overall quality of the production, I am left with only one aspect of the film that might elicit such strong negative reactions: the “squirm factor.”

Deadly End is not a shy film. It dares to “go there,” and then it goes multiple steps further. The first inkling of this tendency comes inside the house of the Petersen’s neighbor, Adrien. The home is beyond dirty, looking more like a derelict house that hobo squatters frequent than a place someone lives in day-to-day. Adrien lies on his filthy bed with quarters over his eyes, while his index finger picks at a wet scab around a possibly infected wound on his abdomen. As if this wasn’t disgusting enough, Adrien then feeds himself small pieces of the scab, placing them on his lip and sucking them into his mouth. It’s something that you might see implied in a bigger movie, but Deadly End just goes right for it and shows the audience whether they want to see it or not. I found it to be a bold choice, and not at all gratuitous. It is done for effect and it works beautifully in this regard. Later scenes ramp up this gross-out factor, and in turn I squirmed and bit my knuckles and squealed a little in disgust and delight. I find modern horror to be either too safe or too graphic, but Deadly End strikes a perfect balance between black comedy and over-the-top gore to deliver something more akin to a modern ’80s movie.

If you love horror movies and you don’t have an issue watching low-budget films, then Deadly End is definitely one to add to your ever-growing list of movies to watch. It’s gross, unsettling and I doubt you will ever forget the experience. Strong stomachs only!

Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie I’ll be watching one of Full Moon’s new films that I missed: Ravenwolf Towers! See ya then!

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