'Dead 7': TV Review

DEAD 7 Syfy - Still - H 2016
Raymond Liu/The Asylum/Syfy
Bye Bye Bye.

Boy-band members come together in Syfy's latest made-for-TV movie.

If a TV movie starring boy-band members exists but they never sing and dance, did it ever exist at all?

A lifelong devotee of boy bands, I actually asked to review Dead 7, which premieres Friday on Syfy. (Not that I think anyone else was clamoring to write about the boy-band oeuvre.) But, my friends, the joke is on me.

I love that these erstwhile boy banders continue to capitalize on their time in the limelight. Why shouldn’t they? Good on them. On paper, Dead 7 is a great idea with a built-in audience. Billed as a zombie Western, I was expecting a tongue-in-cheek romp starring some of the men whose faces used to plaster my wall. I was ready for a trip down Total Request Live lane. And I kind of thought there was some sort of implicit agreement that there would be singing and dancing. Shouldn't they be giving the people what they want?

Instead, this gory The Walking Dead wannabe features lots of bloodshed, exploding brains and stilted acting. The movie stars members of Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, 98 Degrees and O-Town. You can probably guess which former boy banders are participating. You don’t need me to tell you that Justin Timberlake is not in the movie.

Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick make up the *NSYNC contingent, while Nick Carter, AJ McLean and Howie Dorough are there for the Backstreet Boys. Jeff Timmons is the sole representative of 98 Degrees (there’s not a Lachey brother in sight). Erik-Michael Estrada, Jacob Underwood, Trevor Penick and Dan Miller, the four current members of O-Town, all appear in Dead 7.  

Carter came up with the story and serves as a producer on the project, which probably explains why his wife, Lauren Kitt-Carter, co-stars. Plot is of little importance here, but I’ll tell you: In a post-apocalyptic world, zombies have taken over (I mean, when haven’t they?). Money currency has been replaced by teeth. Everyone is dirty and gross. An intrepid group of resistance fighters lead by Jack (Carter) band together to try to take down the vicious zombie leader, Apocalypta (Debra Wilson, playing against our MADtv expectations), and her minion, Johnny Vermillion (McLean). There’s town drunk Whiskey Joe (Fatone), Jack’s brother Billy (Timmons), master sword fighter Komodo (Estrada), Mayor Shelby (Kirkpatrick) and sharpshooter Vaquero (Dorough). That’s seven boy-band members and the movie is called Dead 7, so (spoiler alert!) you do the math.

Dead 7 is a joint production between Carter and The Asylum, the same company behind Sharknado. But the telepic, with its Quentin Tarantino-esque introduction of characters and its fondness for shooting people’s heads off, is far too earnest. No one seems to be in on the joke. Why so serious, Dead 7? It doesn’t have that so-bad-it's-good quality of Sharknado; it more has that so-bad-it's-unwatchable quality. Only Fatone, who gleefully hams it up from beginning to end, and McLean, who does crazy well, seem to be having any fun.

The majority of female characters dress like porn stars, and that’s before all the characters end up in a brothel. The amateurish dialogue is laughable. Characters melodramatically say things like “Everybody’s got to die someday” with no sense of irony. The entire production has the feel of a high school film class project with (slightly) better special effects.

Now let’s get back to how there's no singing and dancing. I was waiting the whole time for them to break into a song-and-dance number or to at least hear some of the participants' hit songs (but perhaps the budget didn’t allow for that?). Instead, the original song “In the End,” sung by Carter, Fatone, McLean, Dorough, Kirkpatrick, Timmons and Estrada (your Dead 7, ladies and gentlemen), plays over the opening and closing credits. But it is so not enough.

I didn’t want it tha-a-a-t way. (I couldn’t resist.)

Production company: The Asylum
Cast: Nick Carter, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick, Jeff Timmons, Erik-Michael Estrada, Jacob Underwood, Trevor Penick and Dan Miller
Airs: Friday, 8 p.m. ET/PT (Syfy)