play dead

By Martin Unsworth

After a botched robbery in which his partner in crime is killed, TJ (Anthony Turpel) heads to his sister, Chloe (Bailee Madison, The Strangers: Prey at Night), for comfort. Unfortunately, she finds out that the pair concocted their plans over text message, so she hatches a plan to get the evidence – a mobile phone – from the morgue. Chloe takes a drug to slow down her body functions so she can appear ‘dead’ and recover the mobile like a Trojan horse. When she wakes on the slab, things are going to get even more terrifying as the coroner (Jerry O’Connell, Scream 2) is an organs-harvesting psychopath.

Despite the ridiculous scenario (horror movies are never logical, and the characters rarely make rational decisions), Play Dead does provide some tense, nerve-wracking action as Chloe attempts to avoid the creepy coroner. Sure, there are plot holes a-plenty, but despite that, it’s good fun. Director Patrick Lussier (who helmed the excellent remake of My Bloody Valentine) piles on the pressure well; however, once Chloe is discovered, the action becomes a little more routine, albeit with some neat twists. The reason for the initial robbery is to raise money so Chloe isn’t evicted from their family home, and the way that’s wrapped up is so delightfully unlikely it adds an extra layer of cheese to the climax.

Where the film really succeeds is in the more visceral elements. From removing ribcage to grabbing organs from the stomach, it’s gruesome enough to please the gorehounds. The deserted morgue makes for an impressively sinister location, and O’Connell is also particularly chilling as the mortician with a profitable sideline.

Play Dead is available now on Icon Film Channel and is in cinemas on March 17th.