How different would Scarface be if Tony Montana had a lust for blood instead of coke? Or, what if a clan of vampires made their own crime family? Wouldn’t that be an awesome movie? Vampires and gangsters seem like a perfect match. They both enjoy secrecy, violence and power. How hard would it be to mix some blood and money into that equation? Maybe a little harder than you might think...
Dead Cert, based off an idea from horror writer, Garry Charles (The Summer Massacre), takes the viewer deep into the underground world of Freddy “Dead Cert” Frankham (Craig Fairbrass Cliffhanger). Frankham, trying to make a name for himself in East London, has just built a nightclub, “Paradise.” He has no idea that the land he acquired for this club belongs to the boss of all vampires, “The Wolf,” who is planning on getting it back. What’s a vampire going to do with a nightclub? You’ll have to find that one out for yourself.
The first few minutes of Dead Cert gave me a sense of false security and high hopes. Feeling like one of those great British action dramadies, like Snatch and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Dead Cert began with character depth, action, and even a little romance. Aside from having a hard time understanding the cockney accents at the start, I thought for sure this movie was going to bring it home. Unfortunately, the part that brought this movie down was the inclusion of the vampires. Had Dead Cert been a movie about a man trying to save his night club it would have been fantastic. I have to admit, I was completely wrapped up in the story, until I saw that first set of fangs.
I don’t have anything against vampire movies, in fact, I love vampires. The way the vampire aspect was presented in this film just didn’t work, though. Maybe, if the vampire element was brought into the plot sooner, or was used more explicitly in the beginning, it wouldn’t have been so jarring for the viewer. The audience does get some hints that there is something supernatural going on, but the behavior we see could be written off as mind games. If Count Capone was supposed to be a surprise for the audience, however, there shouldn’t have been any hints until those pearly whites come out into the open about a third of the way into the movie.
Even though I was very disappointed in the flow of Dead Cert, there were nuggets of greatness every now and again. Lisa McAllister, who plays Jen, Frankham’s wife, was the best character within the film. Although we don’t see as much of her as we do of the action characters, she has more depth, feeling and believability. While everyone else is out fighting vampires, Jen Frankham is putting the pieces of her marriage back together after the loss of her brother and her failure to conceive.
Another great aspect of Dead Cert was the sporadically placed comedic relief. There are several places where I found myself laughing. Most of those times involved the character Magoo, who I’m sure you can guess is a bit like the cartoon character Mr. Magoo. Played by Perry Benson (Sid and Nancy), Magoo brings out the hilarious fact that all the men fighting vampires are middle aged. In the case of Freddy Frankham, the viewer might not think twice about an equally paired fight scene, however, with characters like Magoo, you might find yourself wondering why they thought they could fight a swarm of bloodsuckers in the first place.
I do have to commend Dead Cert director Steven Lawson and the team of writers for attempting this merge of genres. Even though I didn’t think that this film worked, it may be seen as a challenge to anyone else who thinks that they could do better. I’m excited about the prospect of seeing more vampire-gangster films, or whatever genre bending movies will come out as a result of Dead Cert.
The disc for Dead Cert includes the usual scene selection and set up, as well as audio commentary with Billy Murray, Craig Fairbrass, Lisa McAllister and producer Jonathan Sothcott, a behind the scenes look at the making of the movie, and the original trailer. While there are a few things that would make the disc standout, these bonus features are better than nothing.
Most people will find understanding the characters’ cockney accents overwhelming, at least in the beginning, or find the plot holes too vast, and some of the actors just too convenient. For those of you who like the idea of mixing genres like vampires and gangsters, though, I would recommend watching Dead Cert, if only to be inspired by its creativity. Also, if you are a fan of movies like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, this movie might be up your alley, even if you find it a bit slow.
Film Score: 1.5/5 Disc Score: 2/5