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“This is one tense and tight zombie tale with brains to spare and guts to go places few zombie films would dare to go.” – Mark Miller / Ain’t It Cool News
“With all good SciFi and Horror, the construct, the gimmick, the conceit is usually just a metaphorical way of telling that story, sort of exaggerating and accentuating the elements of the story and heightening it,” Wagner says. So DEAD WITHIN began not with the artificial surrounding pieces, like the two people in a cabin setting, but instead, a desire to explore the distance that separates two people stuck together. “The elements of a zombie drama compliment the story we were trying to tell, which was this story about a toxic relationship that was falling apart that was being held together by extenuating circumstances.”
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
“Ben Wagner’s cabin-fever creation is a sharply nuanced survivor’s tale that leaves the viewer to disentangle the genre tropes from their underlying triggers, and the reality from its delirious breakdown.” – Anton Bitel
“Of all the surprises at FrightFest 2014, this was undoubtedly one of the highlights, with ambition, guts, technical proficiency and acting commitment inversely proportionate to its geographical setting… It wouldn’t be fair to call it a zombie movie – it really isn’t – but if it was, it would very likely be the best damn zombie movie of the year. See it as soon as you can, and say you were there at the beginning of two or three brilliant careers.” – David Hughes
What do you think makes a horror film truly scary to viewers?
[Director Ben Wagner] Like all good stories: an investment in character. If you truly care about the well-being of those on screen, you desperately want them to survive whatever is lurking around the corner. That and tension and a good sound mix.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
“Dead Within has a few terrifying moments… though splatterhounds should look elsewhere for their kicks. This is taut psychological terror with believable characterization, clocking in at a well-paced 82 minutes. It entertains to the very end despite the limited setting, due to the logically thought-out ramifications of living in a post-apocalyptic world.” – Christopher Zabel
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
“DEAD WITHIN is a great horror film that will have you considering the apocalypse in a different way. It reminds us that it’s time for us all to update our Emergency Response Kits. We need to reload our food, water, and bullets, and also find something the will keep us loving and supportive of our spouses when the worst is upon us. If anyone figures out what that is, please let the rest of us know while there is still time.” - Stephanie Shamblin Gray
[As with] Wagner’s previous films, location always is a character. This was no different. He said using his home-turned-movie set lent to the cinema verite style of filming.
“Locations drive a lot of the creative decisions,” Wagner said.
In the end, the shoot became an “incredibly collaborative” process that was also a “freeing experience,” Peterson and Chekvala said. It also produced more than 100 hours of footage, which Wagner and Bradford expanded to a comic book as well as Web series at deadwithin.com.
“If you can give visceral experiences, things that feel natural … you feel that emphatic connection better,” Wagner said, “and I think audiences are more willing to go along for the ride.”
“It’s minimalist, to be sure, but it’s accomplished on every level” – Rob Rector, 1nflux Magazine
“DEAD WITHIN Is A Brilliant, Innovative Zombie Movie” – Tyler Yates / Red Carpet Crash
“We made a concerted effort to sort of leave it as sort of a Rorschach check, they can look at it. And different audiences interpret it in different ways. I think it’s one of the most fun things about this movie because of the ambiguity that’s purposely built into it. Every time I’ve shown it for a group of people, they instantly go into a debate of who did this, who did that, why did this happen, who was crazy, who wasn’t crazy?
And often, it really comes down to where you are in relationships with other people in terms of… Because again, it comes down to its exploration of a relationship between two characters and it’s all about assigning guilt. And I think when we’re all in a certain situation, we wanna assign the guilt to a person and sometimes we ignore the fact that we’re the one who’s at fault.” – Director Ben Wagner
Nick Leyland / The Movie Network
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
“This isn’t a film for everyone. It’s more of a psychological study than a standard zombie film. So, if you’re looking for the traditional gut munching and dead walking, you’ll be disappointed. However, there is a lot to enjoy, if you have the temperament to savor a slow burn of mental disintegration.” – Jeremy Biltz / DVDTalk
“Tension is generated from a skeleton cast, a minimum of space, the thinnest of narratives, and certainly a shoestring budget. That impressive feat suggests that director Ben Wagner can do a lot with a little, but perhaps it’s a case of necessity and limitations fueling his creative juices… Dead Within is brisk and efficient. A single setting and principal cast of two could easily get tiresome fast, but Wagner avoids letting either wear out their welcome en route to an unsettling, ambiguous ending.” – Luke Bonanno, DVDizzy.com