Fade to Black (1980)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller, Slasher Film  |   Release Date - Oct 14, 1980 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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This unusual effort attempts to bring some psychological and emotional depth to the slasher genre but ultimately falls short of the mark. The key problem with Fade To Black is that its ambitions exceed its grasp on both artistic and technical grounds. The idea of a movie-obsessed soul losing touch with reality is a great one but writer Vernon Zimmerman buries it under a numbing mass of underdeveloped characters and stilted dialogue. The script also devotes too much time to preaching about the psychological effects of cinematic violence, a point that ultimately rings hollow because the film ends up halfheartedly dabbling in that sort of violence. Fade To Black's overall effect is further hampered by Zimmerman's weak direction, which awkwardly juggles the film's thriller and dramatic aspects and delivers the film's suspense setpieces in a depressingly pedestrian manner. The actors struggle valiantly with the material but the sloppy, often cartoonish characterizations ultimately do them in: Dennis Christopher bravely pours emotion into a protagonist that's ultimately too creepy to be sympathetic and Linda Kerridge is charming as his love interest but also unfortunately saddled with a character who behaves illogically at every turn. Unfortunately, their work is overshadowed by the universally shrill and overdone performances of the supporting cast: Tim Thomerson in particularly unconvincing as a ‘police psychologist' who must be seen to be dis-believed. In the end, Fade To Black fails both as horror film and a drama because it lacks the chops and consistency to make either aim work.