The best horror films anchor their frights and thrills in an all too plausible reality. In Kirk Sullivan‘s City of Dead Men, the title refers to Medellin. For decades, the Colombian city was ravaged by violence, making many of those who lived through its darkest times feel like they were living on borrowed time. Taking that fear at its most elemental, Sullivan’s debut film uses an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Medellin to stage the type of horror thriller that hopes to scare you with images of creepy children in darkened hallways and frighten you with young men who are too eager to test their own mortality.
Michael (played by Diego Boneta), an American tourist who’s run out of cash after traveling through South America, finds himself stranded in Medellin. There he meets Melody (newcomer Maria Mesa) who introduces him to a mysterious group of misfits that live in what was a psychiatric hospital for women that’s been closed for more than a decade. Led by the charismatic if slightly unnerving Jacob (an electric Jackson Rathbone of Twilight), these “dead men” are a welcome safety net for the desperate Michael. But slowly he’ll start to feel his world unravel.
In between trying to keep up with the dead men (who, to be fair, look kinda creepy when they don masks ripped straight out of a slasher flick) and trying to figure out why he keeps seeing ghostly dead children all around him, Michael will have to find a way to make it out of this increasingly scary place alive. Treading familiar territory but tying it to an exaggerated vision of the local world of Medellin, City of Dead Men is ready-made for fans of films like Insidious, The Conjuring, and The Ring.