In his debut feature, Ken J. Adachi explores one of the most dreaded subjects – death. Dead Dad tells the story of three estranged siblings who come together after their father passes away. Though the film deals with how individuals handle grief and loss, Adachi manages to keep a light tone throughout, primarily thanks to some subtle humor and solid performances.

The Players

  • Directors: Ken J. Adachi
  • Screenwriters: Ken J. Adachi and Kyle Arrington
  • Cast: Kyle Arrington, Jenni Melear, Lucas Kwan Peterson, Ally Rachel, Brett Erlich
  • Cinematography by: Eric Bader
  • Original Music by: Nadeem Majdalany

The Plot:

When their dad dies unexpectedly, estranged siblings Russell, Jane and their adopted brother, Alex, come home to tend to his remains. The three must overcome their differences to achieve a proper goodbye and discover what it means to be a family without their dad.

The Good:

  • The Dialogue: The dialogue is very authentic, mainly due to the fact that much of it was improvisation. However, this doesn’t affect the film in any kind of negative way. There’s an element of rawness and realness to the dialogue that’s often times hard to achieve, even when you’ve got a large budget.
  • Death And Grief: This film is about how individuals cope with the death of a loved one. Adachi manages to show how each person deals with this kind of grief in their own personal way, and he doesn’t manipulate our point of view. Much like real people, these siblings are flawed human beings. They aren’t simply black or white. They are complex characters that do questionable things but still manage to stay likable. We see each sibling handle the death of their father in their own unique way, but also how they manage to work things out as a family.
  • The Performances: The cast, though mostly unknown, feels like a group of highly professional actors. They all do a great job with their characters, and there’s never a moment when it feels as if one of them is overacting or trying to outshine the other.

The So-So:

  • Not For Everyone: Though Adachi does a great job at keeping the film light despite the subject matter, there’s still some pretty heavy stuff. Thankfully, there’s always a bit of humor to cut the tension. That said, this film isn’t for everyone. If you’re not into heartfelt indie dramas that don’t feature famous faces, then this one is probably not for you.


Dead Dad is a solid feature for a first-time filmmaker like Adachi. With the help of his co-writer Kyle Arrington, Adachi was able to deliver an indie movie filled with complex characters and interesting ideas. We understand that low-budget films aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but Dead Dad is definitely a movie worth checking out.

The Rating: 7/10

Dead Dad will be available on DVD and VOD starting February 4, 2014. You can also check it out on iTunes.

Photo Gallery:


Will you be watching Dead Dad?