School Shooters Visit Hell

Director Jeremy Kasten’s supernatural thriller The Dead Ones explores a group of masked school shooters facing monsters of their own in the surreal and disorienting horror flick.

Sarah Rose Harper, Brandon Thane Wilson, Katie Foster and Torey Garza star as four teenagers trapped in a hellish summer detention that sees them locked inside their high school. Hunted by shooters wearing masks as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, each student will face their own personal demons in the harrowing chiller packed with bloody effects and nightmarish visions.

The narrative is largely driven by the girls in the small outcast group, Emily and Mouse. Emily is a self-cutter taking anti-psychotic meds, dating the mercurial Louis. Mouse and Scottie have their own issues, haunted by past experiences that traumatized each teenager differently. Trapped together, visions of a tragic school shooting begin eating away at each teen as they remember what drove them here in the first place.

The Dead Ones delivers creative and well-designed set pieces intended for real horror fans

Haunting and slickly directed, Kasten gets fine performances from his teen cast of characters. The Dead Ones delivers creative and well-designed set pieces intended for real horror fans with excellent special effects. It’s a fully realized vision of horror meshed with occasionally messy character development. Fans of visceral horror on screen should love the gruesome imagery and taut action.

The terrifying school scenario quickly becomes a macabre dive into the psyche of each student, peeling away the layers of their pasts. The only let-down is an underwritten screenplay, which plays up the mystery of what’s happening for more suspense and intrigue. The downside is that the audience is only vaguely aware of what’s actually happening until late in the film. The opening act is maddeningly confusing and the preceding summary will help you understand what’s happening far better than the opening scenes.

The Dead Ones is capable, taut horror that satisfies with graphic gore and a bloody narrative that reinvents the standard school shooting.

Video

A favorite of indie filmmakers over the last decade, The Dead Ones was filmed with RED digital cinema cameras. Distributed by Artsploitation Films on Blu-ray, the moody and surreal visuals look right at home on the format in 1080P resolution. Gory effects are seen in fairly vivid detail, though the color palette is slightly muted. Primary colors don’t pop off the screen in blazing glory. The movie first went into production back in 2009, so the picture quality isn’t quite up to par with current indie movies.

The 1.78:1 presentation captures Arcadia High School’s dimly-lit interiors in proficient definition. This isn’t searing videophile material but it has reasonable sharpness. The dark aesthetic maintains a decent contrast, revealing serviceable black levels and fine shadow delineation. The transfer has been smoothly handled without introducing zealous video processing.

The main feature runs a relatively brief 72 minutes on a BD-25. The satisfactory AVC encode handles the moodier lighting without issue. Despite the lower video bitrates, compression artifacts are not a problem.

Audio

The Dead Ones comes with a fully capable 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack. The indie production features intelligible dialogue in a mildly discrete surround mix. Its dynamics are decent, if lacking serious punch on the low end. Most serious action is reserved for the front soundstage. Music is heard with fine depth and separation. The sound design is fairly realistic, if occasionally revealing of the film’s low-budget origins.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a yellow font. A secondary stereo soundtrack is available in 2.0 Dolby Digital.

Extras

Artsploitation Films digs up a couple of featurettes and two separate commentaries for the surreal school shooter flick, including a commentary with most of the lead cast involved.

Jax Smith On Working With Elvis Jones and the Special Effects featurette (05:07 in HD) – Hired as an intern helping out the FX crew, Jax Smith discusses her experience on the film under the lead of Elvis Jones. Behind-the-scenes clips show her in action on the set.

Set Tour With Production Designer Jeffrey Pratt Gordon featurette (03:57 in HD) – The lead production designer describes how an abandoned school was transformed into the set with accompanying footage. This is a neat, concise look at how the movie’s design was created on a tight budget, from construction to working around some inherent problems like the building’s many windows.

Audio Commentary with Director, Editor & Producer – Director Jeremy Kasten leads this group commentary with editor Maxx Gillman and the film’s producer. This is your commentary if you want insight into the demands of making an indie horror film.

Audio Commentary with Director and Cast – Kasten teams up in this chat with the four actors playing teen characters in the movie: Sarah Rose Harper, Brandon Thane Wilson, Katie Foster and Torey Garza. Some cast members speak more than others, recalling their time working on the movie and a few regrets.

The Dead Ones Trailer (01:19 in HD)

Dead Dicks Trailer (01:23 in HD)

Welcome To The Circle Trailer (01:52 in HD)

Red Christmas Trailer (02:13 in HD)

Blood Paradise Trailer (01:26 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Dead Ones
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

School shooters reap what they sow in this trippy indie horror that has nice special effects but a muddled screenplay.

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