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Play Dead (Film Review)

3 min read
Bailee Madison and Jerry O'Connell in Play Dead

Many of us who have been through any kind of medical system can attest to one thing – it can be a nightmare.

And that concept is something taken a step further in Play Dead, the latest creation from the long-time editor of the works of legend Wes Craven, and My Bloody Valentine (2009) director, .

The follows Chloe (Bailee Madison), a criminology student facing eviction from her home. In a bid to help, her younger brother T.J. (Anthony Turpel) teams up with her ex-boyfriend Ross (Chris Lee) to turn to crime to pay the bills as they plan a robbery.

However, things go awry when Ross is shot dead and T.J. flees the scene, leaving his phone – filled with evidence – at the scene to be collected by police.

Now it's Chloe's turn to help. She puts together a concoction that can make her appear dead in a bid to break into the local morgue and retrieve the phone, however, in classic horror fashion, she discovers more than she bargains for when she stumbles upon the coroner's (Jerry O'Connell) illegal organ-selling scheme.

Bailee Madison in Play Dead

A game of cat and mouse begins as Chloe fights to survive the night against the coroner who is hell-bent on mutilating Chloe and giving her body parts to ‘the more deserving'.

While implausibility in horror is not something I detest – it is a genre filled with mythical monsters and kills that defy the laws of physics, biology, and many other schools of study, after all – the serious tone of Play Dead made the questionable decisions of some characters and some of their even more bizarre actions cause the plot to fall flat.

No amount of blood-splattered imagery, eerie sound, or dark and dank set design could detract away from the mess that the narrative turns into. At parts, it offers glimmers of hope in its at-times stomach-churning gore, thrilling twists, and some great jump scares, but they're few and far between in the monotonous cat-and-mouse plot.

I'm sure most horror fans will have seen a film like this in some form, organ dealing horror is not exactly new, and Play Dead does not add anything new to the subgenre, and once you've been introduced to all of the characters, it's a pretty easy task to work out what will happen by the final act.

Jerry O'Connell in Play Dead

While the plot didn't exactly do it for me, one thing I can attest to is I did have fun watching this film – predictable or not. There's always something going on to keep you on the edge of your seat, whether that be Chloe desperately running away from the coroner or another grizzly discovery in what must be the least peaceful morgue depicted.

Adding to the fun factor and the overall lunacy of the film is Jerry O'Connell in the role of the coroner, who was a shining star amid the many questionable factors within Play Dead.

His pointing out some of Chloe's ridiculous actions somewhat resolved some of the implausibility of the plot and the tone in which he delivered some of his more harsh and bleak lines sent a chill down my spine.

Though Play Dead tries to thrill you to death, it falls short on numerous occasions, though if you can look past its implausibility and shortcomings, you won't be left feeling cold on the slab with its quick bursts of fun and fear.

Play Dead premieres on the Icon Film Channel from 13th February before being released in cinemas on March 17, 2023