In this latest Shudder Original film, writer/director Tony West imagines the concept of Ghost Adventures meets Ghostbusters. One of the most renowned paranormal investigating team star in a hit reality TV series, DeadTectives. After seeing a decline in ratings, the hack fraud team of investigators look to find a real paranormal case to investigate. This leads the team to Mexico to research a haunted mansion. Consequently, the DeadTectives get more than they bargain for and are soon haunted by the former inhabitants of the mansion.
Deadtectives is a breath of fresh air in the current landscape of modern horror. The film never takes itself too seriously, but this never takes away from the overall film. The use of dry British comedy and horror tropes creates a healthy balance of comedy. Director and writer Tony West combines gag humor with the macabre design of a haunted house.
“Now that’s horror baby!”
Deadtectives greatest strength is the set and character design. The production is a throwback haunted house design in the vein of The Haunting or House on Haunted Hill. I am a sucker for haunted mansion style films filled with the cliches that we all expect. Interconnected rooms, mirrors on the wall, a giant staircase, and well you know the rest. West creates a simple, yet familiar setting for these very fun characters in Deadtectives.
Chris Geere and David Newman play the two lead investigators Sam and Lloyd. Geere gives off a Joel McHale vibe as the lead of the DeadTectives. His dry sense of humor and his own self-entitlement make him a character that becomes impossible not to love. Some of my favorite characters of all time include Dennis Reynolds of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Jeff Winger of Community. Both characters are self-centered and egotistical but are also genuinely flawed. Geere’s performance gives off the same vibes as these characters. The only improvement is by throwing that type of character into a paranormal setting. As a wanna-be ghost hunter, Sam (Geere) plays up the part and becomes a must watch figure in this fictional world. But a leader is only as good as his team.
David Newman plays the “tech guy” on the DeadTectives team. Although the film is a horror-comedy, Newman is the comedy relief in the film. He provides commentary on the situations that they become involved with and is a stand-in for the audience. As the “tech guy” he becomes the Egon and Ray of this makeshift Ghostbusters team.
“Just warning you bro, I made a few modifications.”
The other members of the team are not as strong in their performances or character dialogue. Jose Maria de Tavira plays Javier, a stereotypical Hispanic side character. He provides moments of “comedy relief” but a majority of his jokes fall flat. The crass dialogue of this character is a broader type of humor that may work better for mass audiences. For me, the drier and on the nose sense of humor played better than the crass jokes that Deadtectives began to rely on.
As a fan of throwback haunted house films, Deadtectives was a great time. With a streamlined 92 minute runtime, Deadtectives builds fun characters, an interesting premise, and a fun set design. The mix of dry humor and classic horror tropes allows for these characters to stand out in sub-genre of horror that is oftentimes hard to stand out in. The final shot of the film ramps of the premise and promises a bright future for our favorite DeadTectives. If you are a subscriber to Shudder and looking for a fun horror-comedy to add to your watchlist, Deadtectives should be on the top of that list.
Overall Score 3.5/5