Dead Bride

Francesco Picone’s Dead Bride (2022) is not a live-action version of Corpse Bride, Tim Burton’s animated, family-friendly necrophilic tale. Although it borrows many elements from beloved horror films, such as a murdered bride seeking vengeance, this movie copies but fails to reach the same qualities as the films it emulates. As with many supernatural stories, misdeeds of the past linger, tormenting later generations, while the spirits look to collect their spooky dues.

Synopsis: After her father’s death, Alyson, her partner Richard and their baby return to her childhood home. Following a few shocking supernatural events, Alyson discovers that she and her family have been living with a terrible curse, unleashed in the past by a bride killed by Alyson’s grandfather. Soon after Alyson’s child disappears, and she has no choice but to embark on a frightening journey into the underworld, to free herself from the bride’s curse and to look for her child. (SOURCE)

The film’s grasp definitely extends beyond its reach.  Dead Bride is a mix of many things: genres, moods, and storylines. What begins as a ghost story in a haunted house morphs into a possession tale before finally settling on a revenge-themed exploration of the relationships between men and women. 

The best thing about Italian writer, director, and producer Francesco Picone’s feature is that it has plenty of terrifying, jump-out-of-your-seat moments. These brief scenes mark the overlap between the spiritual world and the corporeal one. This gives the first half of the movie an engaging sense of excitement. Picone knows‌ how to deliver high-quality scares to viewers and this is enough to make Dead Brides worth the time to watch it. 

Susan's Exorcism

Picone invests a lot into first setting up, then reversing the too often used convention of the gaslit female. Many horror films hinge on this plot point; everyone doubts her suspicions and ignores her warnings at their own peril. Years after her father sent her to America, Alyson (Jennifer Mischiati) and her husband Richard (Christoph Hülsen) move into her childhood home. Plagued by sleep paralysis, where she gets caught in the most frightening nightmares, and unable to move or wake up, she is convinced something is trying to take her child. Initially, Richard dismisses her fears, tells her t, “take your medicine and go to bed.” 

He quickly changes his attitude after their baby disappears. Also present to lend their support to Alyson are a psychic, Dave (Douglas Dean), and Father Elbert (Seán James Sutton). The three men try to figure out what is haunting the house and why it wants her child.  

Dead Bride provides several hair-raising moments of terror and a female lead who was believed by the surrounding men, yet there are some pretty serious inconsistencies and flaws. After setting a brisk pace in the first half, the story twists itself into an impossibly tangled knot. The elements presented about the ghost of the titular bride, murdered by her husband, seeking demonic help to have its revenge on the husband’s future generations come quickly and move on faster than viewers can get attached to them.  While the search for vengeance is as old as Greek tragedy, Dead Bride lacks a powerful narrative and an enlightened moral lesson. Instead, the movie traffics in murky moments copied and pasted from other, more familiar horror movies, creating an unwieldy Hodge-Podge.  

In Dead Brides, misdeeds of the past haunt future generations. While story-wise, the movie offers both too little of some things and too much of others; it is watchable to the end.  Told in a visually restrained style with uneven performances by the cast, it is good enough for horror fans seeking more substantial frights than typical jump scares. 

Dead Bride (2022) is available for streaming in the US and UK on VOD.

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