Considering the high caliber of the British cast (Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Derek Jacobi), DEAD AGAIN is notable for being so corny.
Mike Church (Branagh) is a Los Angeles private gumshoe whose specialty is tracing missing persons. As a favor, he agrees to discover the identity of Grace (Thompson), an amnesiac who climbed over a fence to take refuge in a Catholic orphanage and who suffers nightmares that keep everyone awake from her screaming. Put under hypnosis by mesmerist/antique dealer Franklyn Madison (Jacobi), Grace reveals memories of the relationship between composer Roman Strauss (Branagh again) and his wife Margaret Strauss (Thompson again). In the late 1940s, Roman was convicted of fatally stabbing Margaret in the neck with a scissors, a crime for which he was executed in 1949. Franklyn drags out an old issue of "Life" magazine, and, golly, isn't it amazing how much Mike and Grace physically resemble Roman and Margaret. Subsequently, Mike goes under hypnosis also and ... well, you get the idea. And every chance the director (Branagh yet again) gets, he points the camera at a big, pointy scissors lying on Mike's living room table waiting for some mischief to get into.
At times, I wondered whether DEAD AGAIN was being presented as a comedy, drama, or parody. The too loud music soundtrack favored either the first or last. But, I finally decided on drama because the actors seemed to be taking the plot sufficiently seriously. Then, they overplayed their parts just to show the audience that they were having a jolly good time. (There were shots of a terrified Grace that almost had me laughing for their absurdity.) The result - a mess. There are some decent plot twists at the end, which, if the script could have evolved with more subtlety, would have resulted in an infinitely better suspense film and not such a silly melodrama.
Branagh, Thompson and Jacobi - what were they thinking?