As Good as Dead -- Film Review

"As Good as Dead"


A rote captivity drama with aspirations of sociopolitical relevance, "As Good as Dead" has nothing to say about torture or racism and little excitement to offer as compensation. Prospects are nil at the box office and not much better for the DVD already scheduled to arrive four days after its bow on a single New York screen.

Cary Elwes plays a dubiously accented New York photographer who's attacked in his home. His captors are followers of a race-baiting Southern preacher who was murdered in 1999. Believing Elwes to be one of the killers, the neo-Nazis tie him to a chair and torture him while demanding he name his accomplices.

First-time feature helmer Jonathan Mossek has recruited a surprisingly high-profile cast for this clearly low-budget production, but the performances he elicits range from merely unsubtle (Frank Whaley, as the lead torturer) to occasionally laughable (Andie MacDowell, drawling drowsily as the martyr's widow).

Largely set in a single room and dialogue-driven, the movie suggests a psychological tension it never can muster and leads audiences to expect some twist that will lend intrigue or urgency to all the shouting.

That twist, such as it is, doesn't arrive until the action has played out and every obvious stakes-raising device has been tried to no avail.

Opens: Friday, Oct. 8 (First Look Studios)
Production: Eclectic Pictures, Major Motion Pictures, First Line Entertainment, Millennium Films
Cast: Andie MacDowell, Cary Elwes, Frank Whaley, Matt Dallas, Nicole Ansari, Jess Weixler, Brian Cox
Director: Jonathan Mossek
Screenwriters: Eve Pomerance, Erez Mossek
Producers: Heidi Jo Markel, Jordan Gertner, Eve Pomerance
Executive producers: Avi Lerner, Hubert Gibbs, Eli P. Navon, Belton Lee, Gary Michael Walters
Director of photography: Frank Barrera
Production designers: Jade Healy, Anne Stuhler
Music: Greg Arnold
Costume designer: Rabia Troncelliti
Editors: Julie Carr, Lee Percy
Rated R, 91 minutes