Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Dead (2020)

My notes on Dead (2020)

This New Zealand supernatural comedy/horror would make a nice companion piece to the Irish Extra Ordinary – which also featured an amiable underachiever whose psychic powers drew them into criminal investigation.

An introductory montage establishes that schlub Dave ‘Marbles’ Malwich (co-writer Thomas Sainsbury) has the knack – when does on a potent mix of marijuana and his late father’s neurological medicine – of seeing dead people, and goes around clumsily helping them pass on messages to the living.  Marbles’ mum (Jennifer Lealand Ward, a NZ acting legend whose last great screen showcase was Desperate Remedies) is impatient with his directionless drifting, but has also taken her husband’s death badly.  In a funny scene that later pays off by furthering a well-developed plot hidden inside the slacker comedy, Marbles is dragged by dead gay police officer Tagg (co-writer/director Hayden J. Weal) to a lively gay bar in pursuit of a beachfront serial killer who has been murdering gay men (including Tagg) and finds his mother drunkenly dancing with the crowd, prompting him to presume she’s seeking a new husband in exactly the wrong place.  Tagg’s foster sister Yana (Tomai Ihaia), an alcoholic lawyer housebound with an ankle monitor after a DUI, is roped into the investigation, which winds back through everyone’s lives and takes the comedy into darker areas.

Like Extra Ordinary, it’s mostly patter comedy – the living and dead double act has a nice Randall and Hopkirk vibe – but springs a few serious horror moments, with an afterlife-cycle for ghosts that finds them degrading from reasonably coherent to shambling zombie if they don’t solve their earthly problems and move on.



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