03rd Aug2021

‘Death Alley’ Review

by Dom Hastings

Stars: Delno Ebie, Joshua R. Outzen, Justin France, Corey Cannon, Ryan T. Johnson, Jake Washburn, Carl Bailey, Nicholas Barton, Kaye Brownlee-France, Malorie Felt, Tristan Campbell, Julia Grace Anderson | Written and Directed by Nicholas Barton

“It’s a no-gun town; he ain’t gonna hurt nobody!”

Opening in Coffeyville, KS, 1931, only to then take an even further step back 36 years prior, Death Alley, is the almost parody-like title of a new Western presenting an exploration of the infamous Dalton Gang of the Wild West.

Frustrations and tensions are deep within the Dalton family. Planning to establish themselves as the definitive outlaws, and one-up their relatives, they plan to commit two bank robberies at the same time during plain daylight. Like any deadly and mischievous plan, will things go right or wrong? Hot on their heels is Marshal Heck Thomas (Mark D. Anderson), but the Dalton brothers – Bob (Tristan Campbell), Bill (Justin France), Gratton (Jake Washburn) and Emmett (Joshua R. Outzen) – feel invincible amid this slow-paced pursuit.

Of course, the showpiece occasions of Death Alley are the bank robberies towards the end. Whilst elements within these actions are somewhat intense and mildly exciting, the robberies exist for way too long during the film’s duration. When a bank robbery, general theft, or something of that notion exists for prolonged amounts of time, there has to be great qualities in either acting, writing, or scenarios/actions to justify its existence. Once the robberies conclude – the reaction for many a viewer will be: “was that it?”

Initially a nicely shot and scored adventure, the greatest strengths of Death Alley quickly transcend into an array of its greatest weaknesses. Whilst rock music is great, the implementation of this comes across as almost bizarre. The music just completely fails to align with what’s going on in this 1890s-based story. The cinematography, too, unfortunately, quickly begins to resemble a quality similar to that of high school or college productions.

Obviously, financial limitations will hold back many film productions. With a genre film like the western, this (along with sci-fi) could very well be the worst to be prohibited and held back by finance. Sadly, there are next to no visual indications or believability that the content is of the 1890s. Not even close, unfortunately. The costumes and set design is too close to that of historical reenactments or western theme parks.

Under the creative vision of writer-actor-director-producer-editor Nicholas Barton, Death Alley is a misfire. However, it is clear to see and accept what Barton attempted to do with this film. For that, his work is welcomed and admired despite its flaws. If Barton could make this film again, on a much grander scale, the imbalance of crime film and family drama would most likely have been eradicated or adjusted.

* 1/5

Death Alley is available on digital now and comes to DVD on October 5th, from Uncork’d Entertainment.


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