Offering weak thrills and lame scares, Deadline is a horror movie with no teeth and tired plot. Despite limiting the cast to about 5 people the story still fails to hang together, with even the most minor characters making choices that make no sense. Starting with the decision to let an unstable writer, on heavy medication, stay alone in the middle of nowhere for a week. By the time the final twist arrives you will have given up on the movie having the slightest sense of subtlety or style.
And style really is the big problem here, with absolutely zero attempts made to inject some life or originality into well-worn horror tropes. With an adept filmmaker, no matter how overdone these tropes may be they can be used effectively to send chills down your spine. Deadline, instead, takes a by the numbers approach.
“The Deadline” is Brittany Murphy’s unfortunate swan song being the last movie released before her untimely death. And hopefully with this movie going direct-to-video in won’t be the performance she is remembered for.
A struggling screenwriter, Alice, secludes herself in a rambling Victorian house to finish a screenplay. The screenplay has to be done before the end of the week hence the Deadline of the title. And that is the only connection the title of the movie has with its plot.
Soon the creaks and moans of the house become more sinister and Alice begins to believe that she is not alone in the house. Her exploration of the house, occurring mostly at night, finds a box of old camcorder tapes from old days of 2006. The tapes reveal the story of Lucy and David, the previous tenants of the house. Their newly wedded bliss quickly turned more sinister as David becomes obsessed with documenting every aspect of their relationship. This strikes a chord with Alice as she is had troubles with her own ex a few months previously.
Soon Alice is checking over her shoulder at every turn and desperately trying to uncover the truth about what happened to Lucy and David before she becomes a part of the story herself. Every single scene or shot from a haunted house movie is here and done terribly.
The Deadline not only telegraphs every moment of the plot well enough in advance that you could practically stop watching half way through, but also offers no real scares. The effects are poor and not used effectively. Brittany Murphy may not have been the greatest actress but she deserves to be remembered for more than this.