Nine Dead - 6 stars out of 10
“Nine Dead” was an obviously-low-budget-but-surprisingly-good -film-whose-gripping-story-will-keep-you-on-edge-until-the-end! Nine diverse strangers are put in a room together and one is killed every ten minutes until they figure out their mutual link – awesome concept. While the cinematography and some of the acting (William Lee Scott) were below industry standards, this film’s intelligent design makes money a non-factor. The script places 95% of the story in one room (a la “12 Angry Men”) and, since the mystery reveals itself with excellent pacing and a few twists, the dialogue easily kept my interest for 80 minutes. Let’s be clear, I am not comparing this to “12 Angry Man” in quality, merely in concept. It is definitely one of those films that make it difficult to look away because you want to try to solve the mystery in real time with the characters on-screen. While it is impossible to predict the answer to the question “Why are you all here,” the solution is beyond satisfactory. The format of the script allows each character an opportunity to deliver an impassioned monologue of confession and most of the actors are successful. However, there is an elephant in the room and we need to call it like it is: Melissa Joan Hart’s mother (Paula Hart) produced this film as a vehicle to get her daughter back into the spotlight. The family affair even included younger sister Emily in a brief (and poorly acted) appearance as a stripper. While Melissa acts very well, she becomes the center of the story a bit too much which takes away from our sense that they all equal in their guilt and helplessness. Still, my only issues with the film are personal preferences. I did not care for the last 3 minutes. I would have preferred an ambiguous cutaway that made us fill in the blanks at the climax at the film, rather than the slow movement towards a resolution that kills the momentum. Also, it’s a shame that they threw the f-word around so much. Most of the violence is implied and this could be a great PG-13 thriller for teens without the excessive language. This is probably an only-watch-it-once film, but that single viewing will keep you on the edge of your seat and make you feel as helpless as the nine victims in that room.