Film Reviews

Dead Bride (2022) – Film Review

Serious spoiler warning for Dead Bride and Insidious.

Italian horror has a big fan-base, and rightly so, as many of the horror and Giallo movies of the 70s and 80s are fantastic films. Whether it’s the mystery of gory murder films like Tenebrae, otherworldly horror that plays with the mind like Suspiria, or out and out monster movies like Demons, the Italian film industry was able to knock out hits left and right. Sadly, Francesco Picone’s Dead Bride fails to recapture a lot of what made those older films special.

Dead Bride begins decently enough, as an older man is lured through his home by strange spooky noises. A shadow figure sits in a chair, vanishing when he throws a sheet over it, only for a figure to rise up inside the sheet, looming over him. It’s a fun little sequence that feels spooky enough to get you on board. Unfortunately, this is perhaps the scariest the film will ever get.

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From here we meet Alyson (Jennifer Mischiati) and her husband Richard (Christoph Hülsen) as they move into Alyson’s estranged father’s home following his death. The young couple and their baby son begin settling in when Richard is sent away on a business trip, leaving Alyson alone in the house. This is when spooky thing start happening around the home: shadowy figures, spooky voices coming over the baby monitor, and things moving from place to place. Alyson begins to become convinced that something awful is happening in the house; something that is connected to the mother she barely remembers who died when she was just a girl. As she begins to investigate the hauntings, she learns that something truly evil is lurking inside her new home.

One of the things that becomes immediately apparent when watching Dead Bride is that the film is taking a lot of inspiration from other horror films that have come before. Dead Bride has huge similarities to 2011’s Insidious, and much like in that film we get spooky shenanigans that build up to the family reaching breaking point. Alyson is told by a helpful priest (Sean James Sutton) that moving won’t help because the family itself is haunted, not the house. And much like Insidious, a member of the family gets snatched away by supernatural forces, which necessitates a psychic (Douglas Dean) being called in, and a parent going into the spirit world to get them back. If you’ve seen Insidious you’ll see the ‘twist’ coming a mile away because it does the exact same damn thing. It even has the same jump scare of the spooky looking figure hissing at the lead from behind another person, looming over their shoulder. It feels as though Dead Bride hasn’t so much drawn inspiration from the other film, and more filed off the serial number, hoping no one will notice.

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As well as the familiarity of the script, the quality of the special effects are a bit of a let down. The titular Dead Bride (Francesca Albanese) who haunts the family seems to change look and style from scene to scene depending on what the scare demands, with varying quality. Sometimes presented as a regular looking woman, we see her through flashbacks and brief moments, but for the most part she’s a desiccated, withered corpse in a ruined wedding dress.

The times we see her like this she comes across as a puppet or model that will pop into frame for a moment as it hisses at the camera. However, there are a few scenes that require the Dead Bride to do more than just pop into frame, and here she’s played by a person in a suit. The thin, withered, almost skeletal Bride is then replaced by someone in a bulky rubber suit that makes her look three times as big, and the tattered wedding dress looks more like rotten pieces of fabric wrapped around her. The result is that there are a few moments in the movie where Alyson is being chased not by a corpse of a bride, but a mummy.

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Perhaps the most glaring thing about the film, though, is the audio. It looks like the film was shot in English, with the actors’ lips matching the dialogue we’re hearing. But every single line in the movie appears to have been re-recorded in ADR, and dumped over the scenes. Whilst this does seem to match the style of the older Italian horror films, which would record some parts in both Italian and English and re-dub the whole thing depending on the audience, it fails to recapture any of that nostalgia by being quite bad. The vast majority of the characters sound bored throughout most of the film, even in scenes where something hugely weird or frightening is happening. The result is a film where the dialogue feels detached from the images, and any tension or emotion that could be conveyed through speech is non-existent.

Dead Bride didn’t have to be a terrible movie, it could have been a cheesy, low budget take on the haunted house genre that borrowed from other films. But, thanks to just how much it seemed to copy from a much more popular, and better made film, and thanks to every line of dialogue in the film breaking immersion, it failed to even be so bad its fun, and just ended up as plain old bad.

Dead Bride is out now on Digital release.

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