Director and Screenplay: Sean McConville
Today I bring you “Deadline”, and I’m going to start by saying I don’t understand why is the movie called “Deadline”… (and you wont believe how many movies called “Deadline” exist!!) Yes, it revolves around a girl – Alice – who has a deadline to make her script. But this could be a title for a comedy, where she goes nuts to finish her work and we all laugh because we all have been there. Well, she goes nuts alright, but in a creepy way. It’s not so much about her deadline (or is it?), it’s more about that creepy old house she stays for a week and the things that occur there.
So, Alice has this girlfriend, Rebecca, that takes her to a big old house in the middle of nowhere, where she stays for a week, and she makes a point of being there alone, isolated, in order to finish her script in time. Through their conversation we understand Alice has a troubled past, so Becky is concerned about leaving her all alone in an empty old house. But that’s what happens, of course, otherwise it wouldn’t be a thriller.
So, Becky leaves and Alice stays home alone and eventually she starts hearing things. Nothing that spectacular… Alias, I didn’t think the movie was that good as I was watching, although I thought it was really scary. I went through ate least 3 phases while watching it: first I found it really scary! The shots were very well done, those kind of shots where it seams you are lurking behind the furniture, peeking on Alice, feeling her fear! But then it changes a bit, those shot are not that frequent, and I thought the characters weren’t deep enough, their stories were kind of shallow… Well, that’s not far from truth, but it worked well. And finally, I was confused. The end looked like it was going to be obvious, but that last shot was very confusing to me, because of Rebecca’s expression. But we’ll get there in a minute.
As I was saying, Alice starts hearing things and there’s a scene where we see her not taking her pills. So that’s one more thing we know now: she needs medications and she’s not taking it.
At one point, besides the noises, she sees a figure running in the corridor. As she tries to understand what just happened, she finds these wet footprints on the floor and decides to follow them. This scene is very peculiar because we see how her feet are positioned exactly side by side with the footprints, as if the passes were exactly the same length of her own passes. Her feet “complete” those footprints. As I was watching this, I was seeing Alice “following herself”, those were her own footprints!
The footprints lead her to a room where she finds a suitcase full of a woman’s belongings. She also finds a box full of tapes. And she decides to watch them in hopes of getting inspired to finish her script. How? Well, she always carries her camcorder, so she uses it to watch the videos on her computer screen. And she starts to find out who those clothes belonged to and the story of that couple on the screen.
From this point on, we see a story within the story. We and Alice begin to follow Lucy and David’s life. It turns out David is always carrying his camcorder too, just like Alice, and that’s how we are able – or in this case, how Alice is able – to find what the hell happened in that abandoned house. Yes, because Alice had a feeling someone had died there as the noises she heard were screams and a painfully crying. We are now as interested in that couple’s story as Alice is. Sometimes, I even forgot the film was about Alice!
But there is one little detail that Becky explains to her (and to us) when Alice tries to tell her about all that. The images Alice is watching tell her own story, that she had forgotten: her boyfriend tried to kill her in the bathtub, ending up killing their unborn baby and leaving her in a coma, all because of jealousy. He went to prison of course, and she repressed it all, despite being very sad every time she saw something baby-related. (That’s a bit confusing, because we understand she gets sad when seeing a cradle, so she remembers she had an abortion, and she knows her ex hurt her bad. Did she only repress the drowning or…? I don’t get this: either you forget everything, or you remember what happened, even if it’s not that detailed I guess…) And now we can see how it makes sense to think that earlier Alice was following her own footprints: she was slowly uncovering her own past.
So that’s it: Lucy, the woman in the tapes, apparently cheated her boyfriend and that was the icing on the cake for him. David, a crazed jealous guy, with a history of depression and suicide, decided to put an end to her wife’s life, their unborn son – believing it wasn’t his – and his own, filming it all! He drowned her in the bath and tried to hang himself after, but was saved on the last minute by his mother (oh yeah, the house belongs to his mother) who appeared out of nothing. But it doesn’t end here, Alice continues to watch the tapes and discovers where David buried Lucy, and decides to go dig her up. While on this, her ex, who in the meantime had gone out of prison, calls her saying he’s sorry, he knew the baby was his, he would never hurt her again and blah blah blah… Yes, exactly the same situation that had happened to Lucy. So Alice figures out her ex-boyfriend is the one in the house with her, spying on her, that presence she feels! But no… The one who’s still in the house, alive, is David, who then tries to kill Alice too!! But she is saved, David falls and dies, and Becky shows up, as Alice had called her, clearly disturbed and scared. (Sorry, but you’ll have to see the movie to know how David is killed!)
Now here’s the confusing part: as Becky is trying to calm her friend down, giving her the pills and everything, she picks up Alice’s script and reads some of it’s parts, to find out that it was a projection of Alice’s story, only with the names “Lucy” and “David” as the protagonists. She never sees Lucy or David, who, according with Alice’s words, was supposed to be dead on the floor beneath the bathroom. Rebecca seems to find the script very disturbing and feels sorrow for leaving her girlfriend alone so much time, moreover when she wasn’t taking her pills. Alice is clearly unsettled, shaking on the bed, looking really awful. So one might ask if all those visions weren’t the resulting hallucinations of the absence of her medication, or were they really true? (On one scene where Alice is talking on the phone with Rebecca in the middle of the night, I thought that wasn’t a conversation we usually see in movies, it seemed a pretty real conversation, with Rebecca knowing of Alice’s crises, so one is led to think Alice is just getting a little paranoid for not taking her medication.) But there’s more and this is the most intriguing scene: Rebecca finds Alice’s camcorder and decides to sneak a pick. What she sees is a scene where Alice is filming Rebecca sleeping, saying she “looks like an angel”, the exact same scene Alice saw in those tapes she found, only David was saying that to Lucy… Becky’s face is really strange here, I didn’t get it, and the scene is very creepy, because of the whole story we just watched. It seems Rebecca finds it creepy but it also looks like she makes a guilty expression, I don’t know, it’s odd… One can think of many explanations for this scene and it just blew me, I thought I understood the movie, and then bam! Was Alice the creepy one, always recording everything and creeping out Rebecca during her sleep? Or was she just a poor soul who finally relieves herself from her past? Were David and Lucy real? They must have been, cause even Rebecca finds some information about them. Or were they just fantasies from Alice’s restless brain? But ultimately: why did Rebecca make that look?! Is that the guilt for leaving Alice alone, for not telling her repressed memories before she went crazy? (Was she crazy or not?) Is that fear? What do you think?
A side note: can this reflect our society in some way? I mean, people go nuts because of their jobs, and in this case, Alice got a breakdown trying to finish her screenplay. She wanted to be isolated to do her work and ultimately she gave it all, she gave herself, her own story, to do a good script and got sick for it. I think we can make the best of the things we love, but I’m not sure we must sell our soul to the devil…