This thriller begins with the same scenario that we've been seeing in a lot of horror and suspense films lately: A bunch of people who are apparently strangers find themselves locked up in a room together by a psycho. The twist? Their host lets them know in no uncertain terms that one of them will die every ten minutes until they can figure out why all of them are there.
Let me repeat that: why ALL of them are there. Dead men tell no tales, so this does present quite a pickle when the body counts starts going up.
The captives are quite an assorted group, to say the least. Some are criminals, some are on the side of the law, and some are just common folks. To make matters worse, one of them doesn't even speak English. Of course, when the clock starts ticking down, they all have something to confess... murder, robbery, insurance fraud, adultery, even a pedophile in the group... but what is relevant to their situation and what isn't?
It's not a very easy puzzle to figure out, unless you are the sort that pays close attention to every word and thinks outside the box. And it was a puzzle that I rather enjoyed working through.
The biggest flaw came in the very ending, which was terrible. Fortunately, it didn't have much bearing on the story itself so it's one of the few times I've been able to say that I enjoyed a mystery-solve film while still wanting to throw my shoe at the screen in the last three minutes of it.
Despite the very idea of the plot, this isn't the usual strangers-with-ties-trapped-together horror movie. I would call it a suspense or thriller first. There are no elaborate traps like in Saw II, nor are the prisoners able to do much damage to one another as in Hunger. The killer interacts with his victims - every ten minutes to be precise - but torture is not on his agenda. The very bare bones set-up here is actually a refreshing change from the splashier films in the same vein.
This may be blasphemous coming from an old gorehound like me, but I was actually getting annoyed that the killer kept barging into the conversation every ten minutes just to shoot someone.
I'll give it three stars and pretend I didn't watch the last three minutes.
Film information: Nine Dead