Wicked (Wisconsin) Wednesday Pt. 19: Dead Weight

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Dead Weight is a 2012 film directed and written by Adam Bartlett and John Pata. This has been the most contemporary film I’ve watched so far, and it is refreshing. I was pretty hesitant to watch this, even putting it off several weeks. But this little movie delivers a great suspense story that is well worth the watch.

Dead Weight opens with Charlie receiving a phone call from his girlfriend, Samantha, who is in Minnesota. She tells him that Minneapolis, is under attack. When he turns on the television, several cities in the States are under “attack”. But Samantha and her co-worker manage to get out of their building, and decide to escape the quarantined city. She says they have plans to escape in a canoe. Then there’s this great line, “The world just took a shit and you’re getting in a canoe?” But after seeing events unfold on TV, Charlie tells her to go to Wausau where he will meet her.

The film then jumps to some unknown point in the future. Charlie is sleeping on the floor of an abandoned home with several others, and Samantha is not among them. The group’s journey is obviously not an easy one. They’re low on food and sleep, and they’re constantly on watch to protect themselves from the infected. The group finds a farm house with plenty of food supplies to bring on their journey. But soon after they leave the home, it isn’t long before they run into a group of three locals who have been watching them, specificially .

The new party of men aren’t exactly the best company for Charlie and his pals. The men are sex-hungry predators. But they are merely illustrations of the awful world that they all live in. As the movie progresses, little is actually revealed about what has happened to lead up to the present-day events. It’s clear the filmmakers were more interested in the horrors of the human kind. And humans are more capable of doing much more terrible things than any zombie could.

“There’s plenty of shit from the past I could worry about but it’s worth the damn anymore.”

There are many jumps back and forth on the timeline. Dead Weight doesn’t play as a straight horror film. Much of the flashbacks study Charlie and Samantha’s relationship when it began to fall apart, progressively moving further back in time.

It emerges that Charlie has been lying to his group about why he thinks they need to head to Wausau. He has been telling them that his brother in the army says that it is the more safe parts in the Midwest (although I would argue Wausau is more central WI than north, but I will let this one go). The film builds a really nice tension as every person Charlie’s group meets makes you more suspicious. When they meet an older couple, Charlie begins to learn about what happened all those months ago. The virus that reanimates the dead contaminated the human population, but they claim it is humanity turning against itself – not made by any God. But the couple deliver some of the worst news: Wausau has been taken over.

Charlie doesn’t take the news lightly and the movie takes an even more sinister turn towards the dark. When he finally arrives at his destination, he winds up finding a group of people in a sort of semi-utopian community, but the most important things he finds is Samantha. But if the flashbacks prove anything, it’s that humanity is and always was flawed. The story ends reminding you that some times there really aren’t any heroes.

Dead Weight is a really nice independent horror movie – especially among its contemporaries. It has great tension and a slow burn missing from so many other horror movies produced.  It skips the jump scares and makes the audience wait for the payoff. It’s smarter than I could ever hope for on a WWW, and for that I am grateful. I had quite a bit of fun going through the blog posts for the movie. It reads like a little production diary and is pretty interested if you like that sort of thing. Small independent movies like Dead Weight might not be perfect, but there is something to be said for a film that shows so much love and passion. That really counts for a lot.

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On a final note, I loved the vastness of this movie. Old, abandoned farms have their own strange beauty, and so do the bare trees and desolation of rural Wisconsin. Big shout out to my home of the Fox Cities. It was great seeing some of these places in an actual movie. .

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