28th Oct2019

‘Deadtectives’ Review (Shudder)

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Martha Higareda, Chris Geere, Tina Ivlev, José María de Tavira, David Newman, Cecelia Antoinette, Nuria Blanco, Emilio Savinni, Matías del Castillo, Valentina Zertuche | Written by Tony West, David Clayton Rogers | Directed by Tony West

deadtectives-poster

Over the years we’ve had a ton of horror films that take the tropes of the TV “ghost hunter” show and use them to tell a terrifying tale. Although, for me, many of these films didn’t really work as a) they were often as schlocky as the shows they mirrored; and b) a LOT of them used the confines of found-footage, behind the camera views to tell their story. And I personally HATE the found-footage format!

However there seems to be a current tread for genre films to not only use the ghost-hunting format to tell a scary story but also to parody the trope as well. Recently we had Hoarders, which poked fun at ghost-hunting shows AND hoarding shows – all the while turning out to be both frightening and fun. And this years London Frightfest saw the debut of Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary, an international take on a genre that essentially peaked with Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners (because that’s what everything that’s followed seems to be taking as a filmic blueprint)… And now we have Deadtectives.

A Shudder original, Deadtectives follows a team of hapless paranormal investigators on a reality TV series who go on a quest to Mexico’s most haunted house in the pursuit of better ratings. However, when the true dark secrets of the mansion begin to reveal themselves, the hapless presenters quickly discover that this house is no hoax. With zero ghost-hunting skills (or really any other applicable skills) the team has to figure out how to bust the ghosts and escape the house with their lives…

OK, so I mentioned The Frighteners earlier in this review and honestly, Deadtectives gives that film a run for its money as one of the funniest fear flicks I’ve seen in some time. I was a HUGE fan of Hoarders and didn’t think that film could be beat in terms of mixing laughs and scares but Deadtectives does just that. It is in fact one of the most near-perfect blends of genres I’ve seen in some time – mainly in thanks to the cast (led by a superb Chris Grere), all of whom jump into the ridiculousness AND the terror with both feet; you truly feel like these folks are really going through hell… and are all pretty much dicks! (You’ll have watch the film to know what I mean there)

Deadtectives, ultimately, also has a heart. This is not just a film about ghosts and ghost hunters there is in fact a story of family at this films core – both in the haunted house the cast of ghost hunters visit AND the ghost hunting crew themselves. The fact this film grounds the fantastical with heart makes this one of the most likeable examples of the genre ever committed to celluloid.

**** 4/5

One hell of a debut feature from director Tony West, Deadtectives is available to watch on Shudder now. Do not miss it!

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