[Review] The Dead Ones (Horror-on-Sea Film Festival): A Driver Who Killed a Pedestrian Is Haunted by More than Just Guilt

Most seasoned fright-fare fans have usually seen their fair share of films about the dead haunting those who killed them, but director Stefan Georgiou’s U.K. supernatural horror short The Dead Ones adds a new spin on things. This unique approach and fine performances by its four cast members help make this short film a rousing success.

Alex (Olivia Hallinan) is shown in the opening moments looking out a rain-soaked windshield. Viewers soon see that she has killed a man by hitting him with her car. Several years later, she is still haunted by the spirit of the man she killed while driving drunk, Jono (Sebastian Armesto) — not in the more traditional scary or violent ways, but rather by hanging around all the time, smoking, and remarking on her life. 

One day, a man named Large (Jim Conway), who claims to be a psychic and who is haunted by Marla (Vinette Robinson), his wife who he murdered, introduces himself to Alex. After that encounter, Jono suggests a way that Alex can finally be rid of him, but it could come at a great cost.

Georgiou, working from a crackerjack screenplay by Federico Fernandez-Armesto, has fashioned a nifty short combining horror, crime thriller, and neo-noir elements. The dialogue is terrific, often snappy and sharp-edged, delivered wonderfully by four splendid actors. The characters are well realized. Keidrych Wasley’s (The Mirror [2014]; An American Exorcism [2014]) cinematography is crisp and makes the best of the short’s different locales, including a pivotal scene set around a swimming pool. The makeup effects for the deceased characters are gruesome and realistic, with makeup designer Vitória Haffner and special makeup effects artists Rebecca Butterworth and Jody Stanton turning in fine work.

The Dead Ones nicely balances the felonious with the mystical. It also tells a complete story within its 19-minute running time, while leaving viewers eager to see more of the world that Georgiou and Fernandez-Armesto have created.

The Dead Ones screened at Horror-on-Sea Film Festival, which ran January 10th –19th at Park Inn by Raddison Palace, Southend-on-Sea, U.K.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.