A woman who has not long got over a mental breakdown and is fearful of an ex boyfriend coming after her decides to move to am old, creepy, remote house where she has no car and no one else so she can concentrate on writing a screenplay. If that doesn't sound like an unrealistic idea for a movie I don't know what will but then we are talking about a horror movie called "Deadline" which was one of Brittany Murphy's last movies and was unfortunately released just prior to her death with the advertising being pulled after her shock death because it featured Murphy's character in a bathtub.
Having not long gotten over a traumatic experience with her ex which lead to a breakdown writer Alice Evans (Brittany Murphy - Tribute) is approaching deadline day for the screenplay she is writing and needs to focus. So she heads off to an empty house in the middle of nowhere where she hopes no distractions and no car to allow her to leave will force her to focus. But creepy things start to happen from wet footprints in the hall to a bathtub filling on its own and when Alice discovers a box of home videos she discovers a disturbing secret about the previous residents Lucy (Thora Birch - American Beauty) and David (Marc Blucas - First Daughter).
Frankly "Deadline" is total and utter nonsense and does things which really don't make sense in the real world. Now I know we are talking horror but when you have a woman who is fragile, on medication and scared that her ex may track her down you don't see her alone in a remote house, following wet footsteps up the stairs or not panicking when the bath somehow fills with water. It is too unbelievable even for a horror movie but that is not the worst of it because we also have her finding the home videos that the previous residents shot. Now you have to get your head around that what we see when Alice watches one is not what she sees, we see the bigger picture of David videoing Lucy where Alice sees what the camera picks up. But again it makes it all very unbelievable especially with the fact that David basically has the video going when trust me in real life that wouldn't happen.
The thing is that because there is so much about "Deadline" which is simply wrong the few things which are right end up being lost. One of those things which is right is that what Alice discovers about David and Lucy mirrors her own experience and this gives us this nice ambiguity of whether it is all in her mind or maybe the house is haunted. And whilst unoriginal some of the classic moments of horror from a bathtub scene to Alice hearing Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata coming from the piano are good. In fact some of the best moments from "Deadline" come from being horror aware such as a scene where Alice is placing medication in a bathroom cabinet, when she shuts the door you are half anticipating a horror figure to appear in the mirrored door.
Now in tune with the fact I don't think "Deadline" actually works most of the performances don't either and considering that there are so few characters it isn't good. Both Thora Birch and Marc Blucas overplay their roles of Lucy and David and it leads to a lack of subtlety when more mystery would have been better. Thankfully Brittany Murphy does play her part well and whilst her character is inconsistent you do believe that Alice is a woman who has had a nervous breakdown, she has that frazzled and fragile look about her.
What this all boils down to is that "Deadline" didn't work and it is so unbelievable that it struggles to keep your attention. There are scenes which work, classic moments of horror which grab your attention but more often than not you find your mind wandering as it fails to have you gripped.