Deon Taylor’s ‘Dead Tone’: I Have Multiple Complaints, But I Can’t Hate It

AKA 75, AKA 7eventy 5ive. Like Deon Taylor‘s horror anthology TV show Nite Tales, the movie features Flava Flav as MC, who appears to spout nonsense and disappear in a flash of subpar special effects. The action begins at a kids’ slumber party/house party for adults. After the children play the game 75, which involves prank calling a person and keeping him or her on the phone for 75 seconds, the hosts’s parents and friends are slaughtered. Flash forward ten years, and survivors Marcus (co-writer Brian Hooks) and Scott (Will Horneff) are now in college. For no logical reason, Marcus is still really into making prank calls, in fact regularly making money from people betting on whether he can effectively fool people. Also in the mix we have his friend Kareem (Antwon Tanner), Kareem’s gf Roxy (Cherie Johnson), Roxy’s friend Jody (Aimee Garcia), Jody’s crush Crazy Cal (Austin Basis), stereotypical gay guy Shawn (Germán Legarreta), and token white girl Karina (Jud Taylor). Karina’s ex-boyfriend Brandon (Jonathan Chase), who is rich and spoiled, invites Karina to his notorious end-of-finals house party, and she insists that her crew be invited. Naturally, Marcus starts a game of 75, which once again lures a killer, who in the meantime has been dispatching the other attendants of the slumber party who lived. Luckily, detectives Criton (Rutger Hauer) and Hastings (Gwendoline Yeo) are on the case.

Marcus (on the right), apparently not being traumatized

Even for a slasher, (most of) the characters are horrible. I think Karina is supposed to be likable, but in her first scene she snipes at Brandon for cheating on her with an “ugly fat chick,” which just pissed me off. (She later reiterates, in case I forgot and started to like her, “You better stay away from those fat girls.”) Brandon is meant to be an entitled asshole, and he acts like one, going so far as to call Karina’s pals “ghetto, food stamp friends.” I can’t emphasize enough that Marcus continues to prank call people, even after seeing a grisly murder committed directly after playing 75; he’s otherwise decent though. Shawn is extremely offensive, for example squealing “Girls’ huddle!” with Jody, Roxy, and Karina. (Though I do have to say I’m impressed how the others treat him like an equal, including the guys. When the killer shows up, they refuse to just run off without finding him.) Unsurprisingly, while his het friends are hooking up he finds a guy, but they aren’t shown kissing or anything else more intimate than sort of touching each other, unlike the opposite-sex couples. Scott is more likable than Brandon, but I still had genuine difficulty telling them apart. Even the ancillary partygoers are just garbage people; whilst prank calling, they come across what sounds like a woman getting murdered, and no one bothers to call the police. Shortly after, someone shouts, “Why aren’t we partying?”

Roxy is pretty great

There’s a high body count and it’s occasionally extremely gory, but the movie is not scary at all. The killer takes forever to show up, and when he does he’s toting an axe. It’s one guy with an axe against a house full of people. And he’s forever getting the axe stuck in things. He throws someone off a second story balcony and then turns his back while she hobbles away. (‘He’s really not very good at this,’ my notes read.) There are a lot of cheap jump scares, even the old standby, “Karina, is that you?” (Surprisingly, she doesn’t follow that up with “This isn’t funny!”) And of course the characters decide to check things out after discovering a corpse instead of leaving, and then of course they split up.

Isn’t he hot in that getup? It’s summer!

Aside from Marcus and his ill-advised antics with the prank calls, some stuff just sticks out as wonky. I remember 2007 was a different time, but people still had caller ID–why are so many people answering calls from a blocked number? My favorite though is that shortly after sleepover survivor Chuck (Josh Hammond) is killed (not a spoiler, they introduce him with clear signals that he’s only there to get murdered), his picture is featured on the news. The photo is a screen grab from the scene when he dies–how could the newscasters possibly have that?

Forgive the poor quality of the image–I took a picture of my TV

It’s riddled with cliches in general (the cops are the overused combo of fresh young partner and grizzled jaded detective whose boss is always screaming at him for being too obsessed with the case and breaking the rules), but the ending is definitely unpredictable. The performances are decent. It’s refreshingly diverse and entertaining as well. Despite my constant gripes, I didn’t hate it. Give it a look if you’re in the mood for something baffling but fun.

“Girls’ huddle!”

Published by GhoulieJoe

I wuvs the horror movies and like to write snarky reviews about them. I also included some pretentious as hell microfiction (don't worry, it's at the bottom).

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