Returning to her childhood home in the Italian countryside with her husband Richard and their infant son Seth, the accompanying memories are not good for Alyson, nightmares she has suffered from her whole life now exacerbated by the strain of the recent death of her father by suicide, worsening when Richard is obliged to leave on a business trip where he will spend time with a colleague with whom he once had a relationship.
Awoken by noises and drawn to the attic where Alyson finds a videotape dating to 1995, it shows conveniently edited highlights of her mother’s decline including her father discussing the situation with a priest, Father Elbert; finding him still living nearby he denies any memory of her family but later comes to her house to confess he believes her family is haunted by the ghost of Mary, first wife of Alyson’s grandfather who was murdered while she was pregnant.
Starring Jennifer Mischiati as Alyson, troubled by a restless soul in search of revenge, and Christoph Hülsen as Richard, unconvinced that the apparitions his wife is experiencing are anything other than symptoms prompted by her refusal to take her prescribed medication, Dead Bride is written and directed by Francesco Picone, his second feature after 2015’s Anger of the Dead.
A tale of inherited sins for which atonement must be made set in an isolated house where a lone woman must protect her child, that Dead Bride is largely untroubled by original ideas would have been more easily forgiven had the animated spinning tops, spooky dolls and flashbacks to worse times been conveyed with flair, but while Alyson may be the one diagnosed with a dissociative disorder all the performances are stilted, the ensemble failing to connect with the script or the viewer.
Father Elbert (Sean James Sutton) recounting the attempted exorcism with the despondent delivery of an insomniac trying to get some sleep, Alyson instead turns to a local psychic (Douglas Dean) who detects the presence of spirits, benign or otherwise, with the help of his magic colour changing marble which convinces the formerly sceptical Richard with an ease matched only by the indifference of the police when baby Seth vanishes, the police officer who attends asking the family to let him know when the ransom note arrives then departing.
Babysnatching presumably as common in rural Italy as hauntings stretching over generations, the manifestations of Mary are accompanied by a shift to red-drenched lighting as though Picone were trying to summon the long-departed muse of early Argento or possibly Romero’s Creepshow though never pushing through the veil of the mundane which shrouds the Dead Bride to reach the lively levels of outrageously enjoyable.