As Good as Dead

The eminently torturable Cary Elwes is targeted by neo-Nazis in Jonathan Mossek’s As Good as Dead. This thankless thriller opened on a single screen in 2010, back when Nazism was a niche interest. It now exists on Dailymotion (with Greek subtitles) presumably because nobody wants to claim ownership of such an incompetent and ugly piece of cinema, the kind of film so inept that even the font is bad.

“How many times do I have to apologise for The Princess Bride?!”

Elwes is typically terrible as a deliberately unlikable New Yorker, tied up and tortured by followers of a recently murdered neo-Nazi preacher (Brian Cox) called James Kalahan (not to be confused with British Prime Minister James Callaghan). They think he killed him. He denies it. Then admits to it. Then denies it. And so on. Flip-flopping is not plot development (unless it’s The Beach I guess) and a torture movie without suspense is just pointlessly nasty.

First (and only) time director Mossek deploys the production values of a TV movie from the ’90s, including stock footage and what sounds like a royalty-free score. But As Good as Dead tips from the realm of forgettable trash into morally objectionable territory by deliberately making Elwes less likeable than the neo-Nazi torturers, with the loveable Andie MacDowell playing the preacher’s widow.

Mossek and his writers probably think this is edgy and clever (insert clip of Richard Herring going “Who is the real sick man in this so-called society?”) but to say the film isn’t smart enough to pull this off is a massive understatement (Google it, Elwes). That leaves As Good as Dead representing the obnoxious trifecta of badly made, narratively incapable and morally reprehensible. Why do Greek people want to watch this?

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