There are some bad movies you watch for the sheer joy of how truly abyssmal they are, the kind of movies that MST3K took great joy in riffing over the years. Nine Dead is not one of these movies. It's just awful. An awful, awful movie.
Nine Dead is the story of nine strangers (surprise, surprise) locked in a room for reasons unknown. Their captor informs them that every ten minutes one of them will die until they figure out the reasons they are connected and that they are all there. One of the victims is Chinese, who doesn't speak a word of English, which doesn't really matter because none of the others speak Chinese. The captor promises that if they figure out why they are all there then he will let the survivors go and confess his crimes to the police. It stars Melissa Joan Hart whom you may remember from such Nick shows as Clarissa explains it all and Sabrina the teenage witch. William Lee Scott, who was in that movie the Butterfly Effect, but who now seems to be suffering from permanent "Surprise Eyes" syndrome and a dude I recognise from an episode of The Mentalist.
It would really easy to dismiss Nine Dead as a Saw rip-off because ... well ... it is. You can't make a movie about people being chained up in a room without comparing it to Saw, like you could not make a movie about dinosaurs without comparing it to Jurassic Park. Any film which mostly takes place in one room lives or dies on the acting quality of the people in the room, this film just dies.
The best performances come from Lawrence Turner as Coogan, Chip Bent as Sully Fenton and James C. Victor as Eddie Vigoda. The worst by far, comes from Melissa Joan Hart. As a child I loved watching Clarissa and later Sabrina, but it appears that playing those characters for so long has squeezed out any remaining original acting that Melissa Joan Hart may have once had and left behind an empty 2D shell in the shape of the Nickelodeon logo. MJH's mother produced the movie, which lends some explaination as to why she landed the role in the first place.
The dialogue is spotty at best and flat out embarassing at worst. The fuzzy details on how the strangers are all connected to one another and why they're there, doesn't really build up to what's implied to be some huge, horrific reason. The film tries to be witty, original and suspenseful but falls at every hurdle as too much time is spent on giving MJH extra screen time instead of establishing the characters or carefully weaving the plot.
I could forgive however, the bad acting, dialogue and somewhat patchy plot if the ending held up to what the film had been trying to build toward. The ending falls flat on it's face and runs out of the room crying for it's mother. It's mother being Paula Hart. Who will pat it on it's head and give it another kids series to be in.
4 out of 10