Monday 24 January 2011


Out now on DVD is this new thriller starring Sabrina's Melissa Joan Hart.

Check out the trailer and read my review, after the jump...

Nine seemingly random strangers get kidnapped and placed in a room together by a masked lunatic. Their task is to work out how they're all connected, or their captor will enter the room every ten minutes and kill them one by one. If they work out why they've been targeted, the killer will set them free and turn himself in; if not, they all die. Working against the clock to find out the reason for their captivity, they uncover some secrets about each other and pay a costly price for their mistakes.

This straight to DVD thriller starring Melissa Joan Hart (made by her own production company) aims to cross the mystery of Identity with the location of the original Saw film. The initial set up certainly isn't a bad jumping off point for a thriller, and it's easy to get caught up with trying to work out how they're all connected to one another.

It unfortunately suffers somewhat from the level of talent involved. Some actors impress more than others (Chip Bent is good fun as the Gerard Butler lookalike gangster), but overall they're quite average. That's fine for this kind of run of the mill thriller, but no-one really rises above it. The film also features a bizarre cameo from Daniel Baldwin, resembling what would happen if John Goodman had reconstructive surgery to look like Alec Baldwin. He's on screen for 34 seconds and has no real dialogue; it's as if he was just walking past when they were filming and asked for an appearance.

Melissa Joan Hart couldn't make it more obvious that she's trying to break away from her normal goody two shoes roles. She's always been the clean cut "early career Britney Spears" of actresses, but here she's dyed her hair a darker shade and even swears on occasion. They really are a motley crew of grotesque and nasty characters that have largely earnt their place in the room, but then who are we supposed to be rooting for? The killer?

The masked killer is a fairly generic post-Saw maniac, committing the crimes with a lesson for all involved. His motivations are what's driving the story, but when the dots start to be connected, they don't really make an awful lot of sense. Perhaps Melissa Joan Hart should reprise her first TV role of Clarissa, because there's still some explaining to do.

Although it spends a lot of time pandering to racial stereotypes and has a masked killer who seems all too familiar, Nine Dead has an interesting set up that may keep you intrigued until the end... I'm just not so sure if the final resolution is worth the effort.


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