You, you were supposed to be a monster - now I'm the f*cking beast.
An independent film that dwells on revenge, torment, and psychological elements is bound to catch the attention of someone looking for an intriguing watch. Unfortunately, "Dead Man's Shoes" doesn't live up to the premise. The acting is one of the primary flaws. It's unbelievable, laughable, and most of all; poorly emulated. The cast seems to be constructed of friends who thought that they could make a movie, out of the blue, without any prior lessons or experience.
And then there's the direction - the works of an amateur. As a spectator, we're obliged to presume that the director can coherently splice scenes together seamlessly, without taking us out of the experience. With "Dead Man's Shoes", that's not the case. The editing, direction, and cinematography fall prey to the low-budget and incompetent crew.
The film juggles several different elements in it's simple, but intriguing plot. Some are executed better than others, especially during the last-act. And that's another thing I have an issue with; "Dead Man's Shoes" is better than some of it's parts, and sporadically shows actual effort. Most of the time, the actors can't act, but each of them have a moment of believability. But, it's ultimately not enough to compensate for the previous behavior. However, there are two noteworthy actors among the casts, and they go by the name of Neil Bell and Toby Kebbell. Both actors actually offer good performances, but they're screen time is brought to a minimal.
"Dead Man's Shoes" unevenly features scenes of potential, mainly played out through the last act. The scenes of violence, abuse, and terror are the only things that hold the film back from being completely forgettable. Watching the villains of the movie belittle and humiliate the mentally-challenged brother is disturbing, and downright uncomfortable. The film embraces it's mature elements, but doesn't quite grasp them like it should. The make-up and practical effects for the more vicious scenes were done in an admirable, but amateurish fashion.
Towards the end, there's a "revelation" that adds clarity to all of the carnage and brutality that took place. And boy, does it help the overall quality of the film. The revelation works; it's effective, eye-opening, and something we should've seen all along. This is "Dead Man's Shoes" strongest element.
Potential; something "Dead Man's Shoes" had. "Dead Man's Shoes" has the story of just about every Hollywood-revenge flick before it. The foundation is what separates it from the flock. It's different, but screams debut. Heartfelt, but poorly done. It's a contradiction to just about everything it gets right. In a single scene, "Dead Man's Shoes" shows us it's true potential, and in that scene, we realize what it 'could've' been. Instead, it settled for less.