Eric Edwards, Randal Malone, Gerard Marzilli, Kristin Minter, Donald Morgan, Joe De Nicola, Joe Estevez, Margaret O'Brien, and Richard Norton
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Wild Range Productions
Sometimes, indeed, life starts when you're dead.
Two friends, Peter (Donald Morgan) and John (Gerard Marzilli, Richard III), who just happen to be ghosts, go in search of a girl they liked in high school. When one of them gets the chance to be with her, he has to do it in the body of an awkward nerd, Danny (Eric Edwards).
Dead in Love, a refreshingly low-key yet heartfelt romantic comedy written and directed by Chris Watson, is a wonderfully written and genuinely entertaining film featuring effective performances from its trio of leads and a slew of well-cast guest appearances by folks like Joe Estevez (Apocalypse Now), Dennis Hayden (Die Hard), Tony Todd (Candyman), Joshua Leonard (Blair Witch Project, Humpday), Troma head Lloyd Kaufman and even Oscar-winning actress Margaret O'Brien (Meet Me in St. Louis).
Quite often, novelty casting can be an unnecessary distraction in even a low-budget indie flick designed solely to increase a film's marketability, but clearly Watson has thought things through and each guest appearance manages to add both depth and quality to the production.
Winner of the Audience Choice Award at the 2009 Bare Bones International Film Festival, Dead in Love is so casual in its treatment of its supernatural subjects that, at first, it appears we may have stumbled into a production of yet another Kevin Smith film with its seemingly random dialogue, comfortable "street" setting and slightly twisted reverence for these two ghostly buddies who, in fact, were killed in the same car accident and now appear to be stuck in some sort of limbo before stumbling into a way to exchange bodies (Don't be thinking City of Angels) with a ghost-obsessed nerd with lots of psychic book smarts and a full supply of sperm just waiting to be released.
Dead in Love is the kind of independent flick that leaves you scratching your head wondering "How are these people not household names?" Okay, Okay. Some of these people ARE, in fact, household names and virtually the entire cast is managing to make their mark in Hollywood in roles big and small. Yet, these guys are good...really good and Dead in Love works because the ensemble cast, down to the guest appearances, seems to understand the tone that Watson is going for and manages to pull it off.
If Jay and Silent Bob had a brain (don't try to tell me they do), they'd likely resemble the rather oddball yet comfortable coupling of Peter and John. As played by Donald Morgan and Gerard Marzilli, these two ghosts are in limbo because, well, virtually every aspect of who they are has always been in limbo and stuck between their heart and their mind and their now useless (Do they even exist after death?) dicks. Randal Malone, perhaps relishing the opportunity to play someone who is not slashing people to death, is both endearing and funny as Pat, while Kristin Minter, as the girl of their ghostly affections, is a complete and utter delight with a performance that radiates so much heart and dry humor that I dare say Noah Baumbach would likely get a hard-on. Joe De Nicola, Donald Morgan, Margaret O'Brien and Dennis Hayden are all top-notch in supporting turns.
Tamas Zettisch's camera work gives the film a surprisingly crystal clear look, a contrast to the usual somber tones of ghost flicks, while Tony Longworth's original music is stellar and Dead in Love features a killer soundtrack.
Witty and heartfelt with an intelligent, insightful script and solid casting across the board, Dead in Love is a supernatural romantic comedy that truly captures the spirit of independent filmmaking.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic