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“Tone-Deaf” a Hellish Nightmare





Review by John Delia

Very brutal, the horror flick Tone-Deaf takes you into the confines of a hellish nightmare. Like most slasher films, this one follows the same formula of trapping someone in a secluded place and taunting them until the final coup de grace. The twist does make the film a bit better than some, but still just a bit above average.

Standing over a grave headstone Harvey (Robert Patrick) says: “…Kids today they’re all about the selfish pursuit of happiness. Not self-aware enough to realize how little their lives really matter. …When you get to be my age you get to see the bigger picture and life’s all about hard work and sacrifice. So as long as you millennials are going to leave the hard work to my generation, the least you can do is sacrifice yourself. So get off your climate change high horses for a second and do something about over population.”


Amanda Crew as Olive in the horror / thriller TONE-DEAF. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.

The statement sets the tone for what will follow as we meet Olive (Amanda Crew), a young woman in her 20s that has an attitude. So much so that she gets fired from her job for insubordination. Recently getting dumped by her fiancé, still having issues with her mother Crystal (Kim Delaney) over the suicide of her father, and the lack of an income doesn’t help her situation either.

Her best friend Lenore (Hayley Marie Norman) makes fun of Olive’s piano playing and although she likes the girl, she suggests it’s time for her to put some change in her life. Looking to get away for the weekend she chooses a secluded house for rent that will allow her to play a piano and think things over.


(L-R) Amanda Crew as Olive and Hayley Marie Norman as Lenore in the horror / thriller TONE-DEAF. Photo courtesy of Saban Films


So begins a story that will bring her together with Harvey, owner of the house she’s renting for the weekend. Director and writer Richard Bates, Jr. who is no stranger to horror flicks with the likes of Excision, Trash Fire, and Suburban Gothic, moves his film along at a nice clip introducing the main characters and showing their personal peculiarities. He then puts everything in place before diving into a devilishly gory flick that should make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. It’s a “killer” of a film.

There are good performances by the central characters and that’s what makes the film work as both a comedy and horror movie. Amanda Crew, recently stared in the lead of the horror thriller Isabelle and adds another wicked role to her belt. Here, however her Olive is oblivious to danger and finds herself deep in more evil than she can handle. It’s another win for her, but I hope she doesn’t get caught up in a shock film rut.


Robert Patrick as Harvey in the horror / thriller TONE-DEAF. Photo courtesy of Saban Films.


As the psychotically impaired Harvey, Robert Patrick gets to bring his rage to the screen and it’s an interesting role for him. It’s almost a throwback to his role in Terminator 2 where he’s a relentless killer sent back to the past. Here as Harvey he makes fierce look even more diabolical using a sharp tomahawk to satisfy the need to draw blood.

Not being a super fan of over-the-top horror flicks, but having reviewed a bevy of them, the predictability of Tone-Deaf may be a problem for some. The twist saves it, but stereotyping drags it down a bit. Admittedly however, most horror lovers should have a field day with this one.

Tone-Deaf has been rated R by the MPAA for violence, language throughout, sexual content and some drug use. Several gallons of blood do get used and the fear meter pings repeatedly.

FINAL ANALYSIS: The acting and direction make the storyline work. (for Horror Fans 3.5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Robert Patrick, Amanda Crew, Hayley Marie Norman, Johnny Pemberton,Nancy Linehan Charles, AnnaLynne McCord,with Ray Wise and Kim Delaney
Directed and written by: Richard Bates, Jr.
Genre: Horror, Comedy
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language throughout, sexual content and some drug use
Running Time: 1 hr. 27 min.
Opening Date: August 23, 2019
Distributed by: Saban Films
Released in: Standard, Color

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