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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Erin Miracle, Alexandria Lightford, Aaron Guerrero, Irwin Keyes, Ben Woolf
DIRECTED BY
Aaron Carter
SCREENPLAY
Aaron Carter, Nicholas A. DeNicola
MPAA RATING
NR
RUNNING TIME
64 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Rotten Productions (DVD)
WATCH THIS FILM

 "Dead Kansas" Benefits From a Strong Story 
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Aaron K. Carter's award-winning Dead Kansas features a cast of new actors along with some indie familiars including Irwin Keyes (House of 1000 Corpses), Juliette Danielle (The Room), and Ben Woolf (American Horror Story: Freakshow) in the story of a post-apocalyptic land consumed by "Rottens," while a simple farmer and his daughter struggle to survive. Meanwhile, a ruthless gang hatches a plan to kidnap the teenage daughter for a profit - all this sets us up for one heck of a finish as the farmer/gang confrontation amps up, a tornado threatens, and the "Rottens" are everywhere.

Dead Kansas started out as a web series before being assembled for a DVD release. At just over one hour, Dead Kansas is a breezy good time with hints of horror and a whole lot of humor. The film picked up the prize for Best Horror Film at the 2014 FANtastic Horror Film Fest in San Diego and is a rarity in that it's truly the script that makes the film shine. Carter takes some unique approaches along the way, lessening the gore and focusing the film for the most part on the actual characters. It's only late in the film that we actually see zombies, a decision that may frustrate some yet a decision that works really well in the context of the film.

The acting in Dead Kansas is definitely hit-and-miss, though Aaron Guerrero truly shines as Glenn and, rather poignantly, the film reminds us how much the late Ben Woolf, best known to Americans as Meep in American Horror Story: Freakshow, is truly missed. The actor has a compelling stage presence, but his rare form of dwarfism pretty much relegated him to less mainstream cinema.

That's a tragedy.

Dead Kansas is definitely a low-budget indie, but it's a first feature from co-writer/director Aaron K. Carter that displays his unique artistic stroke and vision and indicates a growing talent. Campy yet in many ways inspired, Dead Kansas is the kind of film that leaves you anxious for the filmmaker's next project.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  

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    The Independent Critic is proud to support Indy-based Heartland Film by committing to the 50/50 x 2020 Pledge - By the end of the year 2020, The Independent Critic will achieve gender parity in its reviews of both shorts and feature films. Furthermore, The Independent Critic also pledges support for the Ruderman Family Foundation's call for authentic representation of people with disabilities in film and actively commits to leverage its journalistic influence to effect genuine change in the film industry by calling for and actively promoting authentic and inclusive casting and hiring of people with disabilities.

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