11 September 2011 | bob_meg
A somewhat lazy nod to the ubiquitous blood-bath hack-fests of the early '80s
There are times when you want a horror movie to be genuinely frightening ---if this is one of those times for you, you might want to hang up on Dead Tone. It's just not that type of slasher. It's more of the get-a- bunch-of-your-friends-together-throw-stuff-at-the-screen-and-play- drinking-games kind of a slasher.
I've never thought ultra-graphic horror was that frightening...in movies, that is, especially on-a-budget outings like this. Kind of like the shark in Jaws, the closer you get to it, the less horrific it seems. The killer in Dead Tone wears a hooded ski parka and wields an axe, so the kills are violent, but you see them coming for seconds before they hit. From that point on, it's just a matter of how bad the effects suck.
Still, Dead Tone ain't a total snooze. Given the lack of thrills, marginal to bad acting, and zero character development, all that's really left to make this watchable is "how serious are the directors taking this?" Turns out, not very...and that's good.
There's the standard rest-stop sequence, where the "crew" (a multi-culti Benneton crew, of course) stops to take a bathroom break, and that whole scene --- toothless redneck from hell clerk, mega-blasted "fright" music cues at the stupidest moments --- really works. When this film is lampooning the genre and itself, it's the best and brightest.
Sadly, though, those moments are few and far between. There are a lot of visual and scripted call-backs to other, better slashers (Urban Legend, Black Christmas, etc.) that prove the filmmakers weren't just rubes. But they didn't quite have a handle on what they wanted to do, and the film as a whole suffers for it.
Oh yeah, a postscript: Rutger Hauer is the brand-name star here, playing the usual doggerel cop role, and looking barely engaged enough to make camera contact. One mystery at least solved: I wondered how he managed to tumble down the long road to something like the rancid "Hobo With a Shotgun"...this is a telling detour.