FrightFest Digital Edition 2 – Dead (2020) Review

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New Zealand has a long line of great comedy horrors. Bad Taste, Black Sheep, What We Do In The Shadows. This year’s FrightFest sees another good entry to that list. Dead good.

Marbles, a hapless stoner, can see ghosts. Tagg, a recently dead wannabe super-cop, needs to find a serial killer. Can a critical ghost cop and a directionless stoner get over their prejudices and work together to save lives – and deaths?

Thanks to its odd couple/buddy movie set-up, it is a police procedural meets paranormal activity. Albeit one where one half of the duo is dead. Allowing it to follow in the footsteps of Peter Jackson’s criminally underrated The Frighteners and Ghost.

Like the work of Shane Black, such as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys, this film’s success hinges on the chemistry between its two leads.

Marbles and Tagg a great double act. Marbles is the lovable loser whose pot smoking allows him to converse with ghosts. Tagg is the straight-edged cop with the stiff upper lip, pardon the pun. The two bounce off each other well and that is no surprise given the actors Sainsbury and Weal are also the co-writers.

The screenplay also plays out like a slice of hard boiled pulp fiction. With various (phantom) plot threads coming together, a few red herrings and some film noir archetypes thrown in for good measure.

Our hero might be Dead on arrival but this film is alive and kicking and frightfully good fun.

Dead is available on Digital Download from Monday 27 October

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Director: Hayden J. Weal
Stars: Thomas Sainsbury, Hayden J. Weal, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Tomai Ihaia
Runtime: 90 minutes
Country: New Zealand

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