Deadtectives follows a group of scam artists who run a television show that fakes hauntings in clients' homes that believe they are truly haunted. After hiring a gruff practical effects ace to boost ratings, the group takes on a new case that may actually have more truth to the haunting than they are willing to believe.
This premise isn't entirely fresh, which is probably why I left Efrit to tackle it at Telluride Horror Show last year. Grave Encounters follows a very similar premise, though it stays exclusively in its found footage style and quickly drops its comedic undertones. Deadtectives never backs down from its dark comedy approach, often using violence to deliver its gags.
Deadtectives has this mildly campy style that you quickly warm up to. Once we are hastily moved into the true haunted house, everything goes fairly predictably, but with a highly entertaining flair. (SPOILER) The gags used when one of the characters (Jose Maria de Tavira) dies are particularly hilarious and had me genuinely laughing out loud. With a scene reminiscent of Idle Hands and the two stoners saying the light to the afterlife was too far away, we see our most sarcastic and lazy of characters choosing to avoid the light as well and stay in limbo within the haunted house. It's when the film picks up its best head of steam.
The cast does a particularly good job on delivery in most moments with effective timing, but the cartoonish personality of Lloyd (David Newman) at times grew stale. The budget feels pushed to the brim of its capabilities with some fun, if blatantly fake, effects work. It had a tinge of magic to it that reminded me at times of the original Ghostbusters.
The experience as a whole is some of the most fun I've had in a while. Frankly, horror comedy has quickly become a favorite of the genre for me, often being more clever within the craft than its sometimes too serious and drab counterparts. Objectively, I struggle with it because the horror comedy is so dependent on its macabre brethren for material that they are inherently less original as whole, but the ingenuity and craftiness of gems like this one make it hard not to love them.