[review by J Kerswell]
An Austrian slasher flick is certainly a novelty. Thankfully, despite dealing up almost every known subgenre cliché DEAD IN 3 DAYS is a surprisingly good little teen slasher.
Five teenagers are celebrating their graduation from High School. Three girls: Nina (Sabrina Reiter), Alex (Nadja Vogel) and Mona (Julia Rosa Stöckl). And Alex's boyfriend, Clemens (Michael Steinocher) and Nina's boyfriend Martin (Laurence Rupp). Doing what teenagers have done since the late 70s (and probably before) they celebrate with a wild car ride, quaffing beer and smoking reefer. Only, rather than knocking over someone in a rain slicker they knock over a deer, which sobers them up somewhat. Getting home, Nina receives a text message saying “Dead in 3 Days”. Thinking it's a joke she heads off with the others to the graduation dance. No Jamie Lee disco moves here; everyone mopes around on the fringe of the dancefloor, with most of the first half of the movie has a pop rock song thrown in every five minutes. Then one of them is snatched by a mysterious stranger wearing black leather gloves ...
Original it aint. DEAD IN 3 DAYS takes it references from the slasher movie's hallowed halls like a giddy kid in a candy store. The basic premise - not to mention the killer's hooded coat - is lifted straight from I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER (1997). It also lifts the opening to HAUTE TENSION (2003). The mobile phone warnings - albeit with the supernatural angle removed - are straight from Takashi Miike's Japanese horror film (since remade in the US, natch) ONE MISSED CALL (2003). It reaches further back with that old chestnut, the-old-dark-secret-that-we-must-never-tell ala PROM NIGHT (1980). As well as nods to THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974) with the killer's ingenious mask, and HALLOWEEN (1978) with the slow methodical way the killer closes in. The identity of the killer is borrowed from that other early 80s slasher classic (I won't say which but you'll know when you see it!). But, perhaps the one touch that shows that they knew what they were borrowing from was that old standby: the decapitated head in the fish tank gag ala HE KNOWS YOU'RE ALONE (1980). Had there been a head down the toilet bowl and the reappearance of a previously unknown evil twin they would have had all the bases covered. Unfortunately, it also veers dangerously close to 'torture porn' territory (with the first two teens being kidnapped before murder is attempted) without, thankfully, ever heading too far in that direction.
Therefore, it is something of a surprise that DEAD IN 3 DAYS is actually pretty good. After the obligatory teen amateur dramatics, when the film settles into its suspense groove it actually delivers; especially in tense and suspenseful closing third. There's even some creepy moments, such as the killer hiding in the closet (nicked from BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974), I know!). Despite the teen protagonists not being particularly likeable (one abandons her father in a wheelchair whenever she gets a strop on; and they bully the creepy class nerd), somehow you end up at least feeling for their dilemma. The Austrian countryside provides a novel backdrop to the action – successfully juxtaposing the picture postcard settings with the unfolding horror. Also, director Prochaska on one hand shoots the film beautifully with crisp and fluid shots, and on the other doesn't whitewash it like many more polished American offerings. The difference between the airbrushed sets of the execrable PROM NIGHT (2008) remake and the piss sodden toilets at the graduation dance in DEAD IN 3 DAYS is only too apparent. Also, perhaps with typical Austrian austerity the film takes itself utterly seriously - although the scene where a policeman who failed to heed warnings that lead to the first murder accidentally runs over the second victim as they are fleeing the killer in his car is nicely darkly comedic.
The film also delivers in the grue department, although it's not the gorefest that the Dimension Extreme label might have you believe. The afore-mentioned head in the fish tank is also accompanied by a particularly splashy throat cutting. Unfortunately, the dubbing to English is as bad as you might expect, so I would suggest searching out a subbed version if at all possible.
Not earth shattering by any means, but a lot better than many newer slashers on the market. DEAD IN 3 DAYS brought in the crowds enough in Austria to spawn a supposedly less successful sequel, the imaginatively title DEAD IN 3 DAYS 2 (2008).
female:2 / male:4
1) Male hangs himself
2) Male drowned
3) Male stabbed to death
4) Female has throat cut and is decapitated
5) Male stabbed in chest
6) Female stabbed