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Review: DEAD ENVY (2018)

Living in the past can be a dangerous and destructive thing. In Harley Di Nardo’s thriller DEAD ENVY, that’s true in a very literal manner. The desire to relive past glories can drive people to make stupid, even dangerous decisions. Sometimes with fatal consequences.

David Tangiers (Harley Di Nardo) works as a hair stylist along with his wife Cecily (Samantha Smart) at their salon. However, David has never given up the dream of going back into the studio and recording a comeback album. This is causing issues between the couple.

Things take a turn when they meet Javy (Adam Reeser). Taking him on as a stylist at the salon, they discover that he’s also a musician, and might be the key to David’s comeback. But Javy has his own agenda, one much darker than his lyrics.

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Covering a lot of familiar territory, DEAD ENVY doesn’t reinvent the thriller genre. It does cover the ground in a fairly efficient and entertaining fashion, though. It’s obvious almost from the start that Javy has some major issues, which leaves us with only two questions. What are those issues, and how will they manifest. Ok, there is a third question, why David and Cecily hire him in the first place.

From there the film goes into a fairly familiar tale of an obsessed fan, betrayal, and revenge. It moves at a decent pace and never gets too predictable. It does lose some of its impact by giving Javy’s issues away a bit too soon. It does recover though and builds to a fairly tense final confrontation.

There are some fairly good original songs on the soundtrack, and the film’s final lines should leave you chuckling evilly. Some viewers may also get a kick out of Dawn (Carla Wynn), though others may feel like she wandered in from a different film altogether.

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Shot on a budget of about $50,000, DEAD ENVY looks OK but never manages the visual flair that helps to set many thrillers apart. Given its rock and roll based plot, a little flash would probably have gone a long way, too.

All in all, though, DEAD ENVY is an acceptable choice for an afternoon’s viewing. It won’t make your year’s best list, but it won’t bore you either.

DEAD ENVY will open in Los Angeles August 24th at the Arena Cinelounge Sunset, followed by a launch on Cable and Digital HD, including iTunes, Amazon Instant, Google Play and Vudu, on September 3rd.

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