Dead Cert

Dead Cert


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

There are some ideas in cinema that really ought to guarantee fun. Vampires versus gangsters is one of them. Throw in a nightclub full of strippers, some fantastically dodgy accents and a mad old man who wanders around prophesying doom, and it sounds like prime material for a Saturday night in. So how did Dead Cert get it so horribly wrong?

Inevitably, critics have compared this film to From Dusk Till Dawn. That seems a little unfair, not just because of the obvious difference in budgets but also because, whilst the premise is superficially similar, it has its own distinctive angle. These are British gangsters in the style of films like Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels or 44 Inch Chest. Indeed, several of them are played by the same actors; you may also recognise a few familiar faces from Eastenders. Their world is one of grit and grime and hard graft - you can tell because it's always very dark and everything is made of concrete, except of course for their twee suburban homes with their lovely soft Ikea furniture and lovely soft Ikea wives.

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Ranged against them are Romanian vampires whose old-school, Dungeons & Dragons style monikers, schemes and traditions are hidden behind the Armani armour of the modern Eastern European drug lord. Both want control of the same club - the gangsters for sentimental reasons, the vampires because it's built on a sacred site. Oh, and, of course, vampires like the dark too, which means that the lighting in some scenes here is almost zero. I guess that reduced filming costs.

The first part of the film is slow, as an effort is made to establish the gangsters' characters - we're expected to be on their side, of course, even though we're not explicitly reminded that they love their dear old mums. This drags a bit, mostly because they don't really have characters. The second half has lots of running about, thumping, biting and gore. Unfortunately a lot of it is in slow motion, which rather defeats the point of action. It's all too familiar to look stylish. It doesn't contain even a hint of a surprise. To the crew's credit, everything looks and sounds professional, but in this state it would probably have been more entertaining if it didn't.

How did this happen? A dash of fantasy ought to have reinvigorated the gangster genre; a dose of realism should make vampires more scary. The answer is, more than anything else, that it doesn't get its own joke; it's far too strait-laced and uptight to appeal to fans of either genre. What's more, its attitude to women is appalling: paternalistic on the part of the gangsters (because really, when would guys like them ever exploit anybody?); openly exploitative on the part of the vampires and, well, the production team. Good girls are meek and submissive. Bad girls wear leather and are sexually assertive before they go in for the kill. It's not that every film should be obliged to adopt a feminist agenda, it's that this tedious approach deprives us of the charisma, the glee, the genuine ferociousness that was always a part of the best vampiress villains.

Perhaps a good vampire film ought to make viewers wish they were dead, but not this way.

Reviewed on: 27 Aug 2010
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London hard-men discover business has bite, after the businessmen who offer to buy their nightclub turn out to be vampires.
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Director: Steven Lawson

Writer: Ben Shillito, Steven Lawson, Nick Onsloe, Jonathan Sothcott, Garry Charles

Starring: Jason Flemyng, Dave Legeno, Danny Dyer, Dexter Fletcher, Billy Murray, Craig Fairbrass, Steven Berkoff, Andrew Tiernan, Janet Montgomery, Lucinda Rhodes-Flaherty, Perry Benson, Ian Virgo, Joe Egan, Ciaran Griffiths, Danny Midwinter

Year: 2010

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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