DEADRISE - starring Renée O'Connor

Director:    Richard Brauer
Producer:     Richard Brauer
Screenplay:     Richard Brauer
Co-starring:     Larry Joe Campbell, Grant R. Krause
US Release Date:     5 April 2011
Length:     95 minutes
Genre:     Suspense Thriller
Interesting Character Scale
(Meg McDermott=10, Lorraine Beasley=0):
Aspect Ratio::    1.78:1
Best scene for O'Connor:     There's a piano on my car.

O'Connor's only shower scene outside of Xena There are really two parts to this film: before the piano, and after the piano.

O'Connor plays Paula, an Inspector for the Historic Trust (an organization dedicated to the preservation of historic sites) and the film begins with her ordering dinner in a restaurant. We learn she is heading home after finishing an assignment. She returns to her hotel room and works while watching a TV news program.

Driving home, she gets a phone call instructing her to stop and check out another possible historic site on the way. The site is a ship in a remote location and when she parks next to it at the pier, a piano is dropped on her car.

After freaking out a bit, she enlists the aid of the proprietor of the boat (Larry Campbell) but finds it impossible to get help in any immediate way. After an abortive attempt to walk back to town (Campbell's character does not have a car) she returns to the ship to spend the night.

Several dreams or hallucinations ensue. Their unreality increases. She dines on sausage. She finds herself showering with eels and sleeping with a fish. She watches Vigs shove a large crate overboard. Eventually she follows the Hooded Person, perhaps initially thinking it is Vigs.

For Renée O'Connor fans, this film is a treat. O'Connor is on screen for almost the entire 95 minutes. She gets a chance to exercise her acting muscles and she is very good. Larry Joe Campbell is nothing short of brilliantly funny, but he is asleep or offscreen for most of the film, and O'Connor has nothing but an old ship, eels and a dead fish with which to interact. Like I said, she is very good. This film will make you think.

This is the most interesting and probably the best film Renée O'Connor has ever done. Rich Brauer turns a rusty ship into a suspenseful dreamscape filled with innuendo and subtlty. It kept reminding me of Ibsen's When We Dead Awaken (more in terms of mood than substance), and I don't entirely know why. The whole thing has a distinctively Scandinavian feel. There are a few hints of Dorothy in Kansas here too, and a lot of food imagery.

There are peripheral characters. Here is a complete cast list:

Megan Mertaugh, who is in the movie for about a minute, is a member of LAUNCH dance theater, and is a native of Traverse City, MI. Emily Richett does the morning news on Western Michigan's Channel 17. The seven children in the film are uncredited.

Grant R. Krause has a role in the new film KILL THE IRISHMAN (now available on DVD).


U.S.S. City of Milwaukee

The ship is the U.S.S. CITY OF MILWAUKEE, which is the last remaining traditional Great Lakes passenger/railroad car ferry. It was launched on 25 November 1930. It is 360 feet long with a 56-foot beam and 19-foot draft, and is powered by four boilers each developing 185 psi. The engines are 1,400 horsepower apiece. The ship can, as Vigs asserts in the film, break through three feet of solid ice. The freight deck can hold 32 boxcars, and 300 passengers can fit on the cabin deck. It was purchased by the State of Michigan in 1979 and was retired in operable condition in 1981 when Michigan shut down its cross-lake ferry system.

On 18 May 2004, the ship was moved to Manistee Lake along US 31 at the Moonlite Motel and Marina, which will be the ship's permanent dock.


There are three other Rich Brauer features available on Netflix. MR. ART CRITIC is a strange tale of a New York art critic who returns to Michigan for a vacation and is never quite the same. THE LOST TREASURE OF SAWTOOTH ISLAND, about the search for treasure in Lake Michigan, and BARN RED, a look into the effects of suburban developers on farming communities in the US. The latter two star Ernest Borgnine, which all by itself is a reason to see them. (Mr. Art Critic stars Bronson Pinchot, who is for me an as yet to be acquired taste, but who does seem to be well cast.)


FITFUL had its premiere in Manistee, Michigan on 16 January. Photos are from the Manistee News Advocate.

The initial screening of FITFUL in Manistee, MI.  Photo by Dave Yarnell Renee O'Connor, Rich Brauer, and Larry Joe Campbell Brauer, Campbell, and O'Connor onstage after the film


Waiting for dinner Daughter's picture on cheap cellphone Newspaper article News about eels on TV in hotel room Piano, Ford Focus, and Paula On the road back to town Interesting facial expression Seven children in film not credited The fish

Original poster for Deadrise with its original name - Fitful