I never realized how perfect Brittany Murphy is for horror film until this movie. Not only does she thoroughly creep me out with her crazy eyes and wax lips from the start of the film, her countenance manages to become perpetually dingy for the duration. By the end of the film, her hair had several different styles going on (did I miss her braiding it somewhere?), half matted and mashed and half loose and wild. And now you think less of me for thinking so much about her hair? Well, like the sometimes goofy acting, I think we can pawn the whole hair thing off on the fact that she is mentally unstable--a fact the film desperately wants you to embrace.
Though the movie doesn't bring anything new to the genre, it is entertaining. It begins with a classic horror movie opening that causes the viewer to speak out loud to the TV. In Deadline's case, I questioned Tammy Blanchard's decision to leave Brittany Murphy in the secluded house, alone, without a car. This, after the film portrays Blanchard as caring deeply for Murphy? I think not. But it made me smile and enjoy my experience, anyway. Plus, I was happy to have Murphy and Blanchard away from each other. Their interaction came off rigid, almost mechanical.
Despite the aforementioned acting, cheap thrills, and innumerable creeks and groans from the house, Deadline's merit, for me, comes in the form of psychological consistency, specifically with Murphy's character. I have no clue whether this was consciously placed in the film or not, but it jibes perfectly with Murphy's defense mechanism, denial. I laughed and shook my head, thinking what an awful movie I was watching, when Murphy turns out the lights and closes the door in reaction to the overflowing bathtub. Similarly, she closes her laptop in response to the "scary messages" screen saver. I was ready to write these actions off as further exemplifying the movie's flaws, but then it hit me that Murphy was employing her defense mechanism in both of these instances. Bravo!
All in all, this is a decent psychological thriller that reminds me a lot of What Lies Beneath. It has its faults, but it has its redeeming points, too. The parallel plots add some depth to the movie, but in the end its a reiteration of plots and twists readily available to the genre. Yet, it's still worth a watch. As with all movies, there is positive and negative. I give Deadline 3/5 stars.