“Dead On Appraisal” is a fun indie horror anthology that brings together directors Sean Canfield (segments "Father Land", "Closing Costs"), Scott Dawson (segments "Freddie and the Goblins", "Closing Costs") and David Sherbrook (segments "The Morning After", "Closing Costs") for some cool, electric storytelling. The anthology stars Zack Fahey, Michael Pfaff, Anthony Thomas Berhle, Keith Lewis, Michael Brouillet, James Howell, R. Daniel Long, Luke Bishop, Adam Conn, Kris Elder, Laura Owen, Fidel Castro, Andrew Kramer, Scott Donko, Scott Dawson and Russell Maltz.
“Dead On Apraisal” takes the kitschy that only puppets and over-the-top gore effects can give and twists it with three dark, entertaining nightmares held together by a nice, piece that weaves the anthology together. Considering the whole film takes place in the same home, this anthology creates a nice angle to keep the film from seeming too cheap or hokey. It is kitschy, as I stated before but in a good way that somehow doesn’t become boring.
“The Morning After” is a total tribute to the outrageously fun b-movies of old with some “Tales From The Crypt” flamboyance thrown in. The story takes a semi-surreal approach that is reminiscent of 80’s melodrama but manages to create a very entertaining tale. Some moments seem a bit too random and offer very little reason to be part of the story but over-all it is a lighthearted, campy gem. The effects are just too celebratory and cool to knock (for me personally, anyways).
“Father Land” goes a little darker and turns the tone of the anthology to a more serious level. It focuses on PTSD and a returning Iraqi vet who is having a hard time coping. This short is a bit somber and sort of drags down the fun buzz from “The Morning After”. Still it is cool to see some attention taken in addressing the very real issues vets now face, but in a way that only indie horror can approach. “Father Land” does have a moment of cool, gory effects at the end of the short, but even this moment is a bit too serious for the anthology.
“Freddy And The Goblins” manages to recapture the fun, upbeat tone of the “Dead On Appraisal” as a metalcore band moves in to become re-inspired for their music. The acting is so over-the-top and nearly nonsensical that moments fall flat in this piece. That being said, the story is clever, amped up and entertaining. The special effects and puppetry sell this short film and bring back that entertaining, fun atmosphere that really makes “Dead On Appraisal” work.
The wrap-around, and glue is to this anthology is “Closing Costs” which has an almost “Tales From The Darkside” feel. It is melodramatic, surreal and our guide through these twisted tales. The acting is passable, the story is strong enough to carry us from nightmare to nightmare. At times it is a bit weak but “Closing Costs” does what it needs to do. The ending is a mix of poor CGI and practical effect madness that really sends the film out on a bang. The selling point for this is the fun, outrageous gimmicks the special effects bring to the table. “Dead On Appraisal” won’t satisfy the hardcore, serious horror fan but those looking for something that is an easy-to-watch, lighthearted flick filled with cheap, entertaining effects will dig this one. I did, and I didn’t think I was gonna like it in the beginning.