Dead Enders (2023) dir. Fidel Ruiz-Healy & Tyler Walker
Content warning: Some language and monster movie splatter.
It’s spooky movie season and Beloved Soluter vomas brings this bit of monster movie mayhem to our attention. “Dead Enders” features practical effects for its bug monsters and some great model work at the beginning, hitting that funcanny valley between legitimate effect and knowing cheese. For example, the return to the gas station establishing shot at 3:33. The LUCKEE’S sign has its own fog and seems to disappear where it comes into contact with the convenience store – a perfect balance of can-do and fuck-it for a sardonic short about questioning where to spend one’s efforts.
The movie is so arch it satirizes the idea of bothering with satire, like our first dead ender, a comically lethargic drilling site supervisor too laid back to see the warnings on his monitor (the other monitor displays demonstrations of a pesticide product; something, something, environmentalism). But the movie eventually hashes out some thoughts on getting stuck (in a job or literally to a floor) and making the effort to get out from under management that keeps you down.
The throwback trappings and young adult malaise aren’t new, but when you can get a quick dose of humor and squishy effects, it’s life well spent.