Dutch television news reports a recent plague of mosquito's - Culex Culivea - has resulted in the New Ijsselmeer area being evacuated for the third time in as many weeks. Earlier, part of Beta Chemicals bio-chem plant exploded, releasing harmful substances into the atmosphere.
Enter hard-nosed Channel 19 reporter Jenny Visser (Tanejar) who, unable to gain access to the building, tries her luck at nearby Powersoft, accompanied by two technical assistants. Visser hopes that Powersoft employees may be able to shed some light on events at their near neighbours, but instead finds herself interviewing a dying man whose own story- and its implications- will threaten the very fabric of society.
Mike (Jansen), Powersoft's ambitious, domineering MD tells his tale while hovering between life and death; a real horror show involving members of his own workforce who are now flesh-eating zombies.
Shot on digital video with a budget somewhere between no and low, Deadline is an admirable effort, with only a single moment of inexperience intruding on an otherwise gripping experience (you'll find this isolated indiscretion bang on the 11 minute mark) The rest of the film works extremely well, as the excellent makeup and fx joins forces with some startlingly effective editing. As Joris De Man's ominous score bubbles away in the background, Deadline switches back and forth from a brightly lit office environment to a darker world inhabited by familiar horrors. Here, the unquiet spirits of Day Of The Dead and Re-animator rise from their graves, and while the youthful exuberance of Deadline is a world away from the aforementioned heavyweights, it does contain impressive formative steps from a crew and cast who are negotiating a series of learning curves that are part and parcel of filmmaking.
On the cast side, Jansen delivers a creditable turn as Powersoft's head honcho, driving his staff towards a make-or-break deadline for 'Final Flesh II' - a blood-soaked follow-up to their best-selling computer game. Even more impressive is Taneja, who goes through several gear changes, moving from a newshound with scant regard for human life to a resourceful woman intent on saving her own, and stemming the tide of blood from those around her (check out the fire extinguisher scene - not quite an irreversible effect, but the girl did well!). It's a lot to accomplish in just 22 minutes but Taneja does wonderfully in her role. Yes, Deadline only runs for roughly the same time as your average round of cinema ads and trailers but, unlike many short films, does leave you wanting more.
The end result could well be a decent budget for director Jonathan Kray's next project, and there's plenty of scope here for an extended version of Deadline.
A possible link between Powersoft and Beta Chem could then emerge, uncovering a jointly-funded experiment that went horribly wrong, and the mosquito plague would doubtless play a greater role in proceedings. There's also potential for a huge dollop of social comment which is hinted at in this current version: if Romero's Dawn Of The Dead was, in part, an indictment of our shop-til-you-drop materialistic values, then Deadline points at a work ethic driven by communal fear. Welcome to the 24/7 age, where we all just turn up to burn out, as the spectres of redundancy, poverty and failure are highlighted by faceless men in suits who are just as shit-scared as their own work force.
Twisted Pictures DVD presents Deadline in a widescreen (1.85:1) subtitled version. Picture quality is nice and sharp, with bold undistorted colours though black levels seem a bit off at times. The inclusion of two commentary tracks - director, followed by cast members who can be seen reacting to the film via split-screen - will be a case of double-Dutch for most of us as the audio is not accompanied by English subtitles.
A short film, Klem (produced by Jansen and Emo)- with an ending that may compel you to revisit the preceeding eight minutes - and three worthwhile fx featurettes (which disect several key scenes) complete a package that suggests we may not have heard the last of Jonathan Kray and Deadline.