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‘Dead Air’ review: Compelling family drama mixed with familiar horror

Dialogue driven horror.

Dead Air does not have the most eye catching premise. William (director Kevin Hicks) finds his dead father’s ham radio. Before long, he meets a reclusive woman named Eva (writer Vickie Hicks) whose only contact to the outside world is through her radio. This leads to a series of conversations that unravels a dark secret about William’s past.

The plot is not the most original, but writer Hicks has managed to take the formula and make it interesting by injecting layers of family drama. Along with coming to grips with his own past, William also has his two daughters to care for. This type of dynamic is usually bare bones in horror movies when it is found at all. Without this aspect, Dead Air lacks any stakes.

William’s family issues are an important part of the film, but it is the interaction between he and Eva that drives the plot in Dead Air. It is in the conversations the two share that much of the story can be worked out. As with any slow burning movie, these moments will not appeal to everyone, but they all end up meaning something in the end.

Unsurprisingly, Dead Air is a dialogue heavy movie. This is less of an issue in the latter half of the movie, but after a high energy start, it is noticeable. Much of this exposition is necessary and it all builds to a finale that is very satisfying. Still, those expecting a fast paced scary movie filled with scares may be turned off. This is a film that rewards patience.

The story is a twisting one filled with turns and surprises. This can be very risky as movies that become too twist heavy tend to lose sight of the initial plot. Tricking the audience becomes more important than telling a story. That is never the case with Dead Air. While there are some twists that are a little too obvious, the great writing keeps the audience guessing.

Dead Air will be available on VOD and digital HD February 19 

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