DEAD LIST *** USA 2018 Dir: Holden Andrews, Ivan Asen, Victor Mathieu 80 mins
A cleverly written horror anthology built around the engaging framing device of a wannabe young actor – competing for a role in a Scorcese picture – using the dark magic of an ancient book to wipe out his rivals.
The stories that follow involve a white character afforded the opportunity to experience life as a persecuted African-American; an auditionee losing his hearing; two aspiring actors paying a price for their callous treatment of women; a surfer enduring a grotesque physical decline and a coke-snorting performer terrorised by a persistent evil clown. This quintet of inter-connected tales maintains the old-fashioned morality of the traditional horror anthology, while playing out as a damning portrait of the entitled, self-serving white male douchebags celebrated by mainstream shows like ENTOURAGE. Each individual tale offers a witty commentary on Hollywood’s exclusion of age, race and disability, and focus on lamely materialistic young men with weak handshakes, a propensity for casual misogyny and a remarkable inability to form and sustain actual relationships. It doesn’t stint on the horror either, finding genuine creepiness and visceral body-horror in a multi-faceted narrative addressing very modern fears and issues.
Review by Steven West