Director Scott Dunn’s newest low budget film Mandao of the Dead, featuring a myriad of terrifying and humorous misadventures led by a lovable cast, is already on its way to being considered a cult classic. Dunn seems to have mastered the balance between horror and humor without taking either too over-the-top or too serious.
We first meet Jackson, a child-like character who seems to not grasp the concepts of finances or personal development, finds himself struggling to get over the break up with his ex-girlfriend Maeve (Marisa Hood). Jay is supporting his 30 year old “nephew” Jackson off his royalty checks from his late father’s cereal company, when he starts having disturbing nightmares leading up to Halloween night. Worried about what’s happening to him, Jay seeks help from his cousin Andy (Sean Liang) to understand his dreams when he learns he has the ability to astral project through time and space.
Halloween night, as Jackson gets in his vampire costume from the year before and heads to his ex-girlfriend’s house, Jay decides to attempt to master his new skill of astral projection. His experience begins with the audience getting a haunting glimpse into Jay’s past when Jackson calls, interrupting his visions and leading us to the unexpected twists and turns of Halloween night; uncovering the murder of Darth (David Gallegos) that have our charming, yet unlikely heroes attempting to save the day.
As a lover of old silent horror, I know the quality of a movie doesn’t always make or break a well-written film; it’s the quality of the story that gets me sucked right in. So despite this being a lower budget film, you do forget about some of the cheesy camera angles and different special effects throughout the plot. The humor of the story though made this feel more believable as you were waiting to see what other shenanigans or horrors that laid ahead. The lighting was superb as well, and although there were few film locations, it was just perfect for what was needed for the story. I also really enjoyed the dynamic between Dunn as Jay Mandao and actor Sean McBride as Jackson, and I believe most people will grow to love this soon-to-be iconic duo as well. The screenwriting also did a great job at delivering information at a good pace while showing the audience the quirky camaraderie and raillery between the characters of Jay and Jackson.
Left hanging with a shocking ending, we are already anticipating Dunn’s new installment to this story titled Mandao Returns scheduled for 2020.
Mandao of the Dead is now available exclusively on Amazon Instant Video.