This was not THE worst horror movie that I've ever seen, but "Dead Stop" does incorporate elements from some of the worst that I've ever seen; the typical group with the "one of each type" in it, and the stupid decisions made in life or death situations. Our merry band for this movie is comprised of: Joe, the savvy survivalist and world traveler; Carolyn, Joe's sneaky and unfaithful girlfriend; Josh, the brash, cocky college athlete; Sarah, the useless, airhead princess, and Josh's girlfriend; Todd, the "nice, honorable guy", and Josh's best friend; Beth, the "good girl", and Todd's girlfriend; Peter, Beth's younger brother, a social misfit and loner. The gang decides to head out into the desert for wilderness hijinks and survival fun in Josh's conversion van. As is typical in these movies, the first thing that our gang decides to do is PPPPAARRRTTTAAAYYYY and drink way too much. This leads to Carolyn hitting on Josh, telling him that she and Joe have an understanding. Josh declined, citing his relationship with Sarah, but almost immediately thereafter, he puts the moves on a very drunk Beth. Beth responds favorably, and she and Josh get it on. Unknown to Josh and Beth, Carolyn sees them making love. The next day, Josh tries to cozy up to Beth, but she gives him the usual "we made a huge mistake" speech, and let's him know that she still loves Todd, and their illicit tryst isn't going to happen again. Josh is dejected by Beth's decision, but that's just the beginning of his troubles. Carolyn approaches him again and blackmails him; if he doesn't agree to get jiggy with her, she will tell Sarah about his dalliance with Beth. It is also discovered at around this point that the van's battery is dead. Josh doesn't say yes or no, but it seems that he's going to have to give in and get down to sexy time with Carolyn. Now, Carolyn is on the verge of getting what she wants, and what does she do? She tells Sarah about Josh and Beth, anyway. It appears that Carolyn wasn't quite clear on the practical application of leverage in a blackmail scheme. She gave up Josh without ever seeing if he would give in. Sarah goes to confront Beth, who plays innocent. Sarah appears to give Beth the benefit of the doubt, as Beth is her friend, and she barely knows Carolyn. Later that night, Sarah hears a growl, and something moving in the brush. She wakes everyone up, and they move inside of the van. The group begins to debate whether or not Sarah actually heard anything, and Peter needs to answer nature's call. Of course, because he has to go about a hundred yards away from the van to take a whiz. While he's relieving himself, he hears and sees the same things that Sarah did, and he runs back to the van. Peter starts to tell everyone that Sarah was right, and then something large and powerful attacks the van. The creature does not get inside, although it does significant damage to the exterior of the van. Everyone looks to Savvy Survivalist Joe for answers. Joe gives the requisite speech about staying calm, and tells everyone that they have plenty of supplies in the form of food and drink. Josh, the resident douche bag of the group, does the typical douche bag thing, and tells everyone that he didn't pack all of the provisions that he was supposed to, because he thought that he could get them later. The group has a one gallon jug of water, a few beers, and two Slim Jim meat snacks, and that's it. Todd decides to go for help, and while he's away, Sarah confronts Beth again, and this time Beth 'fesses up. Sarah verbally assails Beth, and tells her to keep away, their friendship is over. Beth deduces that Carolyn had ratted her out to Sarah, and she and Carolyn come to blows. The two are separated, but Beth was getting the better of Carolyn before the fight was broken up. Todd runs around for a few hours in the desert, but ends up going back to the others to tell them that he couldn't get to help. They have no choice but the spend another night in the desert, and possibly suffer another attack. Now, no one, including Savvy Survivalist Joe, hits upon the idea of building a campfire. There's plenty of dead wood, scrub, and brush about, and the group has the means to start a fire, but why would they?! It only gets freezing in the desert at night. Why build a fire when they can huddle in the van?! There are under attack by an unknown animal, and virtually every terrestrial animal on the planet is afraid of fire, but why build one to fend the animal off?! Those things would only make sense, but who does things that make sense in a horror movie, particularly a bad horror movie? Certainly not our intrepid group. That night, Sarah, who despite being a city princess/airhead is much more observant than Savvy Survival Joe, spots headlights of another vehicle in the distance. Josh tries to signal the other vehicle with his flashlight, but to no avail. Savvy Survivalist Joe determines that the group should stay put, and then trek out the next morning to the other vehicle to ask for help. The group agrees, and retires for the night. The next morning, Todd and Josh head out to find the other vehicle, and they get close enough to see that the people that they were going to ask for help from have all been ripped apart. Josh decides that this is an opportune moment to tell Todd that he banged Beth. They scuffle, but decide that it's getting dark out and they go back to the others. Beth can tell that Todd now knows the truth and tries to apologize, but Todd is still too hurt to accept her excuse and apology. The group retires to the van, and that night, the creature attacks again. This time, it gets inside and mauls Carolyn while the others bail out. Savvy Survivalist Joe tries to go back to the van to help her, but Josh and Todd stop him. The next morning, the group goes back to the van and finds that Carolyn is barely clinging to life. Josh returns to douche bag form and argues that Carolyn is dying anyway, and shouldn't get any of what's left of the water. While he's arguing the point, Savvy Survivalist Joe crushes Carolyn's head with a large rock, putting her out of her misery. The rest is fairly formulaic, with the others getting picked off, one by one. Savvy Survivalist Joe and Josh trek back to the other vehicle and try to start it, but it won't turn over. They take that battery back to the van and just before they get there, Savvy Survivalist Joe is killed by the creature. Josh installs the battery, but then he's also killed. Peter tries to start the van, but something is wrong. Todd goes out to see what's wrong, fixes it, and then he is killed. Peter starts the van, and runs over the creature, but crashes the van in the process. He and Sarah decide that they have survived the ordeal, and then Peter is killed. Oh no! There wasn't one creature, there are two! The second creature kills Sarah. A short time later, some yahoo in a cowboy hat shows up, and goes to the body of the creature that Peter ran over. He touches it and wonders softly aloud, "Where is your sister?". As he stands there pondering the possible fate and whereabouts of the "sister", she shows up and sides up to the cowboy to be petted. The end. We have no idea who the cowboy is. We don't know what kind of creatures did all of the killing, and we don't know what their relationship is to the cowboy. It is one of the stupidest endings that I've seen in a less than stellar production.
The desert can be an unforgiving place. By day, the temperatures soar past the century mark, hot enough to drop a man in his tracks, and by night they plummet low enough to freeze the life ...
July 17, 2020