Movie Review: ‘Dead On Arrival’

Review by James Lindorf

Dead on Arrival, a noir thriller inspired by the 1949 film D.O.A., was written and directed by Stephen C. Sepher (Heist). It is set to release in theaters on Friday, March 23rd, 2018, courtesy of Kingfisher Media and Vision Films. It stars Billy Flynn (Days of Our Lives) as Sam, a pharmaceutical sales rep from California summoned to rural Louisiana by an eccentric doctor on New Year’s Eve. Things get off to a great start for Sam. He signs a big deal with the doctor and meets beautiful local girl, Jesse, played by Christa B. Allen (Revenge). But Sam finds himself in a dark world of corruption and murder when he learns he’s been poisoned and has less than 24 hours to live. Dead on Arrival features a strong supporting cast, with personal favorite D. B. Sweeney (The Cutting Edge), Chris Mulkey (Whiplash), Lillo Brancato (The Sopranos), Tyson Sullivan (Heist), Scottie Thompson (NCIS), Billy Slaughter (The Big Short) and Christopher Rob Bowen (Marauders).

This film has a great premise, a good cast and was entertaining throughout. The movie is well shot and gives an accurate vision of a small town, highlighting the way the town’s wealthy live apart from, but next to, the poor. Flynn is likable as Sam and does a great job portraying someone suffering from severe abdominal pain, even if his health seems to fluctuate rather than consistently decline. I think Jesse was my favorite character, and maybe Sepher’s as well, because she is the character with the biggest arc. She initially comes across as a gold digger using her wiles to garner the attention of a wealthy man at the party, but then shows herself to actually be a good person doing the best she can. Another highlight for me is the relationship between the two detectives played by D.B. Sweeney and Nazo Bravo. Their back and forth arguing about famous Armenians is the best comedic element in the film.

I did enjoy this movie but I have to say that it didn’t quite nail its landing. Sepher was the film’s sole writer and I think that was his biggest mistake. He needed a second party to tie up some of the loose threads and trim the fat in his script. This movie gives the appearance of a rope that is starting to fray. There are just too many story threads in this film to be properly tied together in its 97-minute runtime. I think if they cut either the crooked cop or the mob plot, the movie would have been much more focused and thrilling. I think people watching this movie purely for entertainment and not to critic it may not notice some of the inconsistencies or forget them as the film quickly progresses. I don’t know how well Dead on Arrival will do during its theatrical run, but I believe it could have success in On-Demand and streaming platforms once it makes its debut there.

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