Meanwhile, multi-talented director/writer John Pata has grown immeasurably as a creative artist since his charmingly fun 2007 debut Better Off Undead. This observation is proven as fact as Pata, along with co-writer/co-director Adam Bartlett, has given the world a hauntingly poetic look at an obliterated world with this year’s devastatingly good Dead Weight.
After the majority of the world is seemingly wiped out by a mysterious virus, a handful of bedraggled travelers wander the barren landscape trying to find other survivors, while actively avoiding the often violent infected. Focusing on Charlie, a charming slacker, determined to find his girlfriend at a specified destination point, Dead Weight does not dwell on outside monsters. Rather, it concentrates on how adverse conditions can make monsters out of humankind as Charlie (and others he meets along the way) begins to consider actions that not only question his sanity but his decency.
Brilliantly edited and photographed, Dead Weight is solidly led by (first time actor) Joe Belknap as Charlie while Mary Lindberg, as his ambitious love Samantha, brings vivacious charm to her role. It is the supporting actors, like Michelle Courvais and Aaron Christensen, who truly bring out all the subtle nuances in their characterizations, though, ultimately making Dead Weight an emotionally revelatory experience. Courvais, who played a sassy double dealing cop in acclaimed low budget horror The Landlord, particularly brings weight and humorous understanding to her emotionally scarred survivor, proving she is a performer of uncommon depth.
There are some minor flaws. Occasional sequences of dialogue flow awkwardly out of the actors’ mouths and, as in most quickly shot independent features, it is obvious when friends and innocent set visitors have been recruited to play roles. But on the whole, Dead Weight is an inspiring, amazingly complex film, deserving of multiple accolades.
On a side note, Dead Weight was given an emotional screening at Evil Squirrel Comics in Rogers Park in Chicago on June 8th, 2012 (above). Evil Squirrel, owned by openly gay horror lover Sparky Bobby King, has gone the unfortunate shakily financial way of many awesomely creative independent businesses, by having to close the doors of its (physical) shop. Fortunately, Bobby and Evil Squirrel will still be around offering online and delivery service and as an extremely cool presence at various conventions.
And until next time-
Sweet love and pink Grue, Big Gay Horror Fan!