After thinking about it for a bit, I've come to the conclusion that 'Dead Cert' is quite possibly the most boring vampire film ever created. And this decision is made with special consideration given to the 'Twilight' saga and the ridiculous sequels to the awesome 'The Lost Boys.' I cannot think of another horror feature where the audience will literally fall asleep waiting for a bloodsucker to finally show up. And when they do, there's not a single menacing thing about them. The film's tagline tries to say otherwise, but it fails miserably in delivering the goods, making the entire experience more a pain in the neck than a pleasurable love bite.
The movie is so god-awful boring that some audience members walked out barely a half-hour into it. Granted, only my wife and I make up the audience, but still. She walked away muttering about having better things to do. After suffering through the rest of this insufferable turd alone, I found her rearranging her sock drawer and having a good time. I almost wished I had joined her. In fact, the bathroom sink needs unclogging, and I probably could have fixed that while the movie was playing and still ended up waiting for a vampire to finally do what vampires do — hiss and show their fangs while fearfully running away from... a family picture? Really?
The real challenge in watching 'Dead Cert' is in actually paying attention because the mind starts to wander after a while. (I just yawned there for a second while thinking back on the movie.) A former gangster and retired boxer named Freddy (Craig Fairbrass) opens a gentlemen's nightclub with a bunch of his buddies. They also run bare-knuckle fights on their off time with Freddy's brother-in-law coincidently sitting pretty as top contender. Some shady Romanian gangsters come into the picture via Freddy's friend (Dexter Fletcher) and led by Dante Livenko (Billy Murray), wanting to push Freddy out of business.
I get that much from the plot, although I have to admit the accents of many actors often seems a bit tricky. But as the story progressed, I kept catching myself thinking instead of where else I've seen Fairbrass. I have no idea why Freddy's brother-in-law had to die, but I was quite proud of myself for figuring out Fairbrass was one of the villains in 'Cliffhanger' when that scene took place. I also can't say what exactly the female vampire in Dante's crew does because I couldn't stop staring at what a gorgeous bloodsucker she makes. The rest of the time, I spent it squirming in my seat and making a cup of black tea just to stay awake.
I don't think I can accurately say I even watched a movie. 'Dead Cert' feels too much like a pilot episode of some horrible vampire series with some strange, underlying connotations about tough-minded blokes standing up against the foreigners. Director Steven Lawson, who also serves as co-writer with Garry Charles and Ben Shillito, shows a desire to blend any Guy Ritchie movie you can think of with Robert Rodriguez's 'From Dusk Till Dawn,' especially in the all-out, blood-soaked finale with stakes that look like chair legs and several casualties. Of course, none of it works, and vampire fans are left seeing red from boredom and disappointment.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Shout! Factory brings 'Dead Cert' to Blu-ray on a Region A locked, BD25 disc housed in the normal blue keepcase. At startup, viewers are taken straight to the standard main menu with full-motion clips and music in the background.
Looking very much as if it were shot on HD cameras, 'Dead Cert' comes to Blu-ray with a good but mostly bland and boring AVC-encoded transfer. To be sure, the 2.35:1 picture frame is incredibly sharp with excellent definition in several scenes. Especially in daylight exteriors, the video displays beautiful, fine detailing on the buildings, trees and the surrounding area in general. Facial complexions in close-ups reveal pores and show terrific, lifelike textures. Colors, meanwhile, are cleanly rendered and richly saturated, particularly the reds in the blood and the greens of foliage throughout. There are one or two moments of softness, but nothing too damaging.
On the other hand, the rest of the picture wavers between flat and dreary to crisp and full of dimensionality. Contrast isn't always consistent, providing a good of pop and clarity in most scenes. But when it falters, it's quite noticeable as the image suddenly grows dull and grey during interior sequences. Black levels can be lush and opulent, but they also alternate along with the contrast, which changes shadows into a murky, foggy mess. The biggest fault in the presentation is that it's simply lackluster, feeling and looking very cheap as if made for television.
For the audio, listeners are given two options and neither leave much of an impression. They're both serviceable and get the job done, but like the video, they're both boring and unexciting.
The first choice is a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack in 7.1 and feels forced for the majority of the movie's runtime. Discrete effects are artificial and easily localized in the soundscape. It's very clear the track was made in post-production with very little effort or thought put into it. The second option is an uncompressed PCM track in stereo and it actually sounds slightly better because it's more than likely the original recording. Still, the mid-range feels limited with a mild low-frequency presence. Atmospherics expand the imaging somewhat, but it's hardly every engaging and interestingly active. The worst offender is the very poor dialogue reproduction that can be heard in both tracks. Conversations are often, if not almost always, difficult to make out or understand because the rest of the soundstage seems to overwhelm, drowning the voices in several scenes. Pick either lossless mix. It doesn't really matter because both will be a disappointment.
Supplements are terribly puny, but I'm not complaining.
Ideally, vampire movies should be filled with mystery and suspense, possibly even a sexy edge to spice things up. 'Dead Cert,' sadly, offers none of that, it's like a mashup of stolen conventions from almost every other vampire flick imaginable. The low-budget movie from England desperately hopes to be suspenseful and entertaining, but ultimately feels like it's simply desperate all around. The Blu-ray comes with a great picture quality, but is just as bland and boring as the movie itself. The audio is terribly average with poor dialogue reproduction and supplements are inconsequential, making the overall package an easy one to skip.