What would you do if you had less than 24 hours to live? In the schlock thriller Dead on Arrival, pharmaceutical sales rep Sam Collins (Billy Flynn) answers this the way characters in movies like this usually do: He embarks on a race against time alongside a heart-of-gold stripper to find out who’s behind his imminent death.
It all starts when Sam accepts an invite to a client’s orgiastic New Year’s Eve party. Little does he know that the night will feature plenty of T&A, shady mobsters…and (here my voice drops an octave) murder. After waking up next to one of the party girls, Sam hits the road and finds his body going into shock: He’s been poisoned and there’s, inconveniently, no antidote. With a straight face, a doctor tells Sam that he’s been murdered and leaves his still-living patient to grapple with the news. Sam flees, learning that his client was also murdered — with a more effective instrument.
Writer-director Stephen C. Sepher’s thriller is so convoluted that it’s hard to care about its trail of dead bodies. Inspired by Rudolph Maté’s D.O.A. (1949), this 2018 update leaves much to be desired — especially some pointed comments about Armenians and an obvious witch-doctor trope among other tone-deaf bits. Ultimately, the tired irony of Sam’s predicament as a guy who sells meds but struggles to cure himself fails to save Dead on Arrival.
Dead on Arrival
Directed by Stephen C. Sepher
Kingfisher Media and Vision Films
Opens March 23, Cinema Village
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