#REVIEW: “DEAD ON ARRIVAL”
We will begin with the fact that we’ve never seen the original Film on which Dead on Arrival is based, but the 2017 reimagining of 1950 Film Noir D.O.A., holds its own as a thrilling Hitchcockian standalone piece that is well aware of its modest ambition.
The Film written and directed by multi-talented Stephen Cyrus Sepher (Heist), is set in modern day Louisiana, where an unassuming pharmaceutical sales rep named Sam Collins (Billy Flynn) whom while dealing with his own troubled marriage, finds himself with less than 24 hours to live suddenly waking-up poisoned. He finds himself lured into the wild world of sex, corruption and murder, subsequently targeted by the police when he is suspected of the latter.
Dead on Arrival traces Sam‘s desperate journey with just 24 hours to live, in finding the person who committed his impending murder. Along the way, he meets the enchanting Jessie (Christa B. Allen) who commits to helping him undo his poisoning, but a voodoo priestess (Denise Milfort) whom she brings him to confirms he is doomed. The stakes are high with lives on the line in addition to Sam‘s and we never are quite sure if he will overcome the odds to escape his ill fate. The Film doesn’t give anything away till late as to the true motive behind his poisoning, which is refreshing in an era of common predictability.
While the Film at moments struggles to find itself tonally in balancing comedy – much of it thanks to Chris Mulkey‘s larger-than-life Hans Dunkle – and suspense, it manages to keep us invested the entire way with steady pacing. Some may have a thing to say about the disposability of female characters, in addition to a transgender character here, but the Film seems to remain faithful to the source material on which it is based and that being said, Dead on Arrival is unapologetic.
Flynn, known best for his work on Days of our Lives does a credible job as the Film’s lead working tirelessly to unravel Sam‘s mystery and Allen, whom we loved on Revenge, certainly is a highlight. Sepher wears multiple caps here, even in a prominent role as kingpin Vince and does it convincingly.
Louisiana, like in Sepher‘s 2015 Film Heist starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Robert DeNiro, is not just a backdrop, it is a character – dangerous, dark and very much alive, as captured so well by Cinematographer John Garrett.
While it continues to make its run through the festival circuit, we foresee some success for Dead on Arrival via on-demand, digital and limited theatrical platforms and it certainly is worth a watch. Stay tuned for additional release details.