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Stream to Scream: “DEAD CERT” (2010)

As many fright fans already know, FANGORIA offers a great selection of gruesome movies, old and new, for free at our Hulu channel. To give you a better idea of what’s available, FANGORIA is taking in-depth looks at some of the channel’s terrifying titles with Stream to Scream. Today: Steven Lawson’s vampire flick DEAD CERT!

When it comes to vampire films, Steven Lawson’s DEAD CERT is far from a perfect specimen. Playing like FROM DUSK TILL DAWN via Guy Ritchie’s lens, DEAD CERT is predictable, underwritten and edited like a television pilot, among other problems. Yet for all of its flaws, DEAD CERT is a pretty entertaining vampire yarn, and delivers a good amount of vamp violence when it counts the most.

DEAD CERT does take a little while to get to the true horrific nature of it all, despite delivering a bloody hand-to-hand fight scene during its opening crawl. The film follows a fairly well-off British Gangster, who owns one of London’s hottest up-and-coming clubs while operating an underground fight club below the club itself. However, the appearance of a mysterious Romanian drug lord send waves through the Gangster’s operation, who soon finds himself fighting with everything he’s got for his family and livelihood.  Add in a sub-plot about a rowdy vampire conspiracy theorist and the Gangster’s scampy boxer brother-in-law and you’ve got DEAD CERT in a nut shell.

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If you think that DEAD CERT would be a fairly straightforward affair from the description, think again: there’s multiple wheels turning throughout the film, with each sub plot resolving with a fade-away rather than an organic segue. But DEAD CERT can be occasionally compelling at time, largely thanks to some of the more charismatic cast members, and frequently delivers on some of the more violent moments, especially once the vampires show their true form in the latter half of the film. And to that extent, DEAD CERT also mostly delivers in the way of special make-up SFX as well, though those moments are certainly fewer and farther between.

It’s almost like director Steven Lawson couldn’t decide how to make a crime film that’s also a horror film, therefore deciding to make both and editing them together as such. Tonally speaking, that makes DEAD CERT a bit of a tough cookie to crack, even though the cinematography from James Friend is genuinely impressive throughout. DEAD CERT also has a more than capable script from Ben Shillito, and one that not only understands vampire lore but molds it to make it more practical, which is definitely adds an interesting perspective to the proceedings.

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While the best known actor in the film, Jason Flemyng, is in DEAD CERT for barely a few minutes, the film also has the benefit of having a fantastic ensemble cast, whom make the film twice as endurable under the circumstances. Craig Fairbrass makes for a solid lead, especially when the vampire element kicks in and he’s on the reverse side of the power struggle. Meanwhile, Billy Murray makes for good vampire foil against Fairbrass and co., relishing the opportunity to play a vampire whose plans are bigger than just sucking humans dry. But the supporting cast, which includes Lisa McAllister, Steven Berkoff, Roland Manookian and an exceptionally good Dexter Fletcher, really makes the film feel more than your average vampire offering, with each performance lending itself to a larger social mechanism and environment.

Overall, though there are plenty of vampire offerings that are bigger and better than DEAD CERT, the film does offer enough blood and character work to justify its relatively lean run-time. If you’re a fan of British crime films, you’ll likely be more inclined to enjoy DEAD CERT, but even if you’re not, the vampire-laden final act of the film is likely to leave most horror fans satisfied. And for those who like their vampire flicks to have a bit of barbaric darkness to them, don’t fret; DEAD CERT has a fair amount of ruthlessness in its brutality, which spares neither woman or children in its wake.

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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