DEAD WRITE: DVD
Jade Harper (Rachel Hunter) is a successful Manhattan novelist who struggles with a mild schizoaffective disorder. Confronted by what she believes to be her husband Mark's (Nick Stabil) infidelity with her editor Karen (Rene Ashton) and an inexplicable desire to go home, Jade returns to her small town of Hopewell, California. Once there, she gets in touch with her elementary school teacher, Miss Copperfield (June Squibb), who inspires her to write a book of the history of the town. Jade uncovers a web of inconsistencies in the reported deaths of her relatives. She comes to believe that these were not a series of accidents. Armed with facts collected from police records and clues shown to her by mysterious presences, Jade has all the information she needs to prove that murders were committed - but no one believes her. And with her deteriorating condition, Jade begins to doubt herself. But if she's right... she is the next in line to die.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Competently made and full of solid performances, Dead Write is an entertaining escape, with New Zealand born model and one-time Mrs Rod Stewart, Rachel Hunter as the writer who uncovers the mysteries of deaths in her family - and she doesn't have to fake an American accent. The script gives her a New Zealand connection through her mother. Hunter makes a credible, fragile, nervy, delusional Jade, going easily from determination to confusion and back. She hasn't lost her beauty or her charm - except as required by make up for the role....
The basic premise of a small town with secrets is given extra layers with Jade's father (Robin Pine) holding her responsible for her mother's death when she was a child. This adds a different set of tensions to the unfolding of Jade's research, which also uncovers discrepancies in the reports of accidental deaths (eg her grandmother) which may or may not have been caused by the spirit of a spurned lover.
June Squibb is great as the sweet old schoolteacher with a wealth of information (she was once the local reporter) and Mary Chris Wall is excellent as Jade's publisher, Ilene. Jonathan Breck is a standout as the cheerful Deputy, and little Joseph Castanon is marvellous as the smart, strange and surprising school kid, Rufus. Kala Savage is intriguing as the edgy psych student Vanessa, and it's lovely to see Tippi Hedren (famously in The Birds) in a small but important role, her screen appeal undiminished.
The creepier goings on - hauntings - are part of the package in this thriller - fuelled by romantic betrayals - from writer and producer (& miscellaneous crew) Allison Wilke (credited as A.W. Gryphon), handled with appropriate slight of hand by debuting director Michael Connell, who directs the climactic scenes like a crescendo.
Published March 26, 2009
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DEAD WRITE: DVD (M)
CAST: Rachel Hunter, June Squibb, Robert Pine, Tippi Hedren, Jonathan Breck, Kala Savage, Kali Rocha, Nick Stabile
PRODUCER: Zachary Kahn, Jackie Olson, Allison Wilke
DIRECTOR: Michael Connell
SCRIPT: A. W. Gryphon
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bridger Nielson
EDITOR: Matthew Cassell
MUSIC: A. R. Tubbs
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Shirley Leong
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
PRESENTATION: 4:3; DD
SPECIAL FEATURES: none
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Peacock Films
DVD RELEASE: March 19, 2009
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.