Image Entertainment // 2010 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Carlton (Retired) // February 12th, 2010
Every ten minutes one must die!
Nine Dead is an entertaining little thriller with a few relatively small shortcomings.
Nine strangers are kidnapped, blindfolded, and put into a room together. The kidnapper informs them one person will die every ten minutes, unless they can figure out why they were brought together and how they are connected.
Nine Dead isn't completely original, but don't hold that against it. Hell, Avatar unashamedly borrowed from probably ten films and is the highest grossing picture of all time. Fans of Saw will immediately recognize the idea of strangers awaking to find themselves in a room with others. While this is familiar territory, the plotline does present an immediate situation that engages a viewer's curiosity. For this viewer, it gave me a reason to stick with it.
Nine Dead works as a good (but not great) thriller, because of the way in which the characters are linked to each other. The screenplay is well crafted and its strong points outweigh the weak ones. The characters behave as one might expect under the circumstances, starting out cocky and unshaken, but quickly turning serious when they witness the first execution. They rack their brains trying to discover the connection before it is too late.
Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) plays Kelley, a successful lawyer who finds herself handcuffed in a room with eight seemingly unrelated strangers. (Make that seven. We learn early on that she did intimately know one guy in the room.) Kelley is not very likable and part of me hoped she would be picked off first. Seeing as how she was the biggest name in the film, I knew that wouldn't happen. Hart is taking roles that break her sweet Sabrina stereotype and she holds her own quite well.
Incidentally, Daniel Baldwin fans may be disappointed to know that he makes a very brief appearance in the film lasting maybe thirty seconds. This hilariously short cameo reminded me of Peter O'Toole in One Night with the King. In other words, Baldwin is only there for the star power he brings the film. Baldwin is no O'Toole, but you get the point.
From looking at the DVD cover, I suspected this film would be extremely heavy on the gore, but there was very little blood at all. Nine Dead is all about unraveling the mystery of why these completely different personalities are trapped in a room and being killed one at a time. The ending was a bit abrupt and slightly ambiguous; reminding me of The French Connection without the brilliance.
Will Nine Dead someday be revered as a classic? Not likely. The dialogue is slightly manufactured and some of the actors are more convincing than others. None of that really bothered me though. One plot point that did bother me is how the killer would have known the specifics of how these people were connected. There was no way for him to have known all of the information of this tightly knit story, but whatever. It was a low budget thriller, so I'll cut it some slack.
My DVD was a screener copy, so there were no extras to comment on. Nor can I accurately comment on the picture and sound since this isn't a final version of the disc.
All in all, Nine Dead kept me entertained and even interested throughout.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated R