Deaden (2006)

deadenI’m a real sucker for revenge films and for the longest time I’ve tried to track down this little indie production and see what the fuss was about. This basically mini-budget action thriller is a typical raw vengeance piece that holds pieces of The Punisher, Death Wish and Scarface with just the right amount of Irish edge that keeps the story moving at a brisk pace. The chaos and carnage that is inflicted by our main character Rane is just sadistic, but in the end it’s a sick and demented series of payback plots for a group of sick and demented people.

Director Christian Viel delivers the story by beginning in the end where we meet our anti-hero Re being beaten and tortured by vindictive gangsters intent on making him suffer. When they fail to break him, they take their anger out on his pregnant wife Jaimie forcing him to watch as they beat her, rape her, and cut her open in an abortion scene that’s pretty difficult to watch. In spite of the rest of the movie, Viel directs this long introduction quite well and succeeds in enraging the audience as well as his main character. Breaking free he attempts to fight back but gets an arrow through his skull. By some mysterious coincidence he survives and pretty much hits the deep end. Sadly there are many chinks in the armor that take the potential that could be reached with “Deaden” and bring it down in to utter mediocrity with a meandering story that can never quite stay on track.

The movie is barely ninety minutes and it become painfully obvious that Viel and Fallon are purposely padding the story to reach a respectable length. So there are many scenes of Rane walking through the streets, naked women strutting around, cops examining crime scenes emphasizing the immense violence that was already made painfully clear in the first place, and Rane hanging with his psychotic best friend sniffing coke and drinking. There’s even a pointless sequence where Rane and his buddy take down a SWAT team that consists of four clumsy armed men and two street cops. You figure they’d be smart enough to hide out and catch them by surprise. All of which make no sense and bog a potentially entertaining action thriller down in to utterly pointless drivel.

Rather than pad the story, Fallon would have been wise to focus more on the villains and explore their inner-workings and complexities to allow us to get at eye range with their madness and explore what Rane is in for, and why they deserve these vicious deaths. If that’s not enough there’s a considerable undercurrent of homophobia that writer Fallon presents that’s intended to evoke the classic eighties actioners but really just come off as blatant. One of the main baddies is an evil homosexual, Rane sodomizes someone with a pool cue, he murders a bouncer that just happens to be a molester of little boys, and there’s a club called “Blue Ballz.” Yeah, that last joke was funny for two seconds. As for the action, half of it is pretty sick and tolerable, but then there is the other half that’s just material for inadvertent comedy. The fight scene with the orderly in the hospital is sheer stupidity.

Even for an over the top moment, it’s just horrifically absurd, and the orderly is pretty damn obnoxious fighting kung fu with a patient just because he wants to leave. And then there’s the first kill with the maniacal Tina (the absolutely gorgeous Carmen Eccheveria) that is just pure utter hilarity. From the fake glass, the kissing, and the head blowing I had to literally stop the movie to halt my incessant giggling. It’s material like this that tarnishes an otherwise solid film with real creativity. For all intents and purposes, John Fallon (co-writer) is delightfully over the top as this hard boiled detective who pays for his work and pretty much relies on his underworld connections to get him to every members of the Brotherhood gang and make them suffer in every imaginable way.

Fallon doesn’t quite impress, but he does work as this anti-hero who embraces his dark side to get his retribution. Viel and Fallon switch back and forth from Rane’s current state of madness to his time back with his wife where he spent most of his life seeking peace in the embraces of his wife but sadly could not find it once these killers break his door down. The back story behind Rane ends up becoming much more engrossing as the dialogue between Rane and Jaimie is emotional. This is also helped by the stand out performance of Anne Jaeger who is quite strong as this doomed woman who is Rane’s only link in to leading a good life.

She’s punished for her purity and when she is tortured and murdered, we feel it. The murders he inflicts on these people are utterly compelling as he makes them suffer before death and takes a joyous laughter when causing said pain. Viel and Fallon don’t exactly glorify this act of cruel punishment as every death sinks Rane deeper in to the abyss and by the climax he’s basically self-destructed. But it’s a competent ode to grindhouse and tends to entertain on many levels. In the end, “Deaden” is neither really good or really bad it’s just… mediocre. Middling. Worthy of its obscure direct to video status and not very capable of living as a cult classic. It’s simply something with a lot of promise that just peters out in the climax. Save for some entertaining moments, “Deaden” is pretty damn forgettable.