Running time: 1 hour 41 mins
Starring: Shiloh Fernandez, Noah Segan, Jenny Spains
Publicly screened for the first time at Toronto's 2008 International Film Festival, this debut feature film for Hollywoodmade, a Los Angeles based production company, is quite possibly one of the biggest 'marmite movies' I have come across so far. Some love it, some hate it, some love hating it and yep you guessed it others hate loving it!
Two friends Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and JT (Noah Segan) bunk off school and head off to the nearby abandoned mental asylum and do very typical lad things... Drink, smoke, vandalise... Let their curiousity lead them down to the basement... Whilst nosing around the dark, dank corridors a dog springs from nowhere and chases them. They manage to pry a rusted shut door open and hide from the dog. It's in this room that they find a naked woman (Jenny Spain) chained to the table with a bag over her head. Instantly both the boys and the audiences thoughts turn to the obvious: Serial killer? Cult? Organ harvester? As they are still nervously taking in the situation the naked woman moves...
Over the next few scenes we discover that she is a 'dead girl.' It seems no matter how many times JT tries to kill her she just will not die. This stirs up many questions: How did she get there? Who put her there? How long has she been there? Who knows about her? And whilst my question became 'What the flippity flip is going on?', the boys question is of course the biggest question of all: 'What shall we do about her now?!?!'
Imagine you are those two boys. Tanked up on beer and adrenaline. Away from the eyes of conscience, justice or judgement. Would you be like Ricky and want to call the police or a hospital? Help this zombified stranger? Or would you be more like JT and see this as an opportunity of sorts? I know what we would all like to think we would do, but I guess some of us, like JT, are not as ethical as we like to think.
Ricky's morals and JT's sick lust become entwined and tangled; their conflicting views become deeper and darker as time goes on. Their 'agreement' quickly becomes broken, their secret shared and then the inevitable...
A couple of college 'jocks' discover their secret 'Deadgirl' and things quickly spin seriously out of control. I liked how one minute I was laughing; then I was flinching; then I was willing the bile to go back down my throat... And then I was amused again!? Hell, whether that is right or wrong it was certainly an entertaining ride!
The direction of this film is pretty indecisive, the editing annoying in places. But the screenplay is fantastic, no doubt about it. Trent Haaga, known for his work both in front and behind the camera, deserves all the credit here for writing Deadgirl.
The story itself is a strong one, somehow let down in its execution. The plot, scenes, dialect, co-ordination are all first class. The acting, especially Jenny Spains performance as the 'Deadgirl,' is extremely believable and at times completely spell binding . Yet for some reason this movie just doesn't come together right.
With its 'open ending,' we are left with many unanswered questions and several blanks to fill. I happen to like movies that can end this way, when well written as in this case, but I am fully aware I am in the minority and most people want an explanation with every 'i' dotted and 't' crossed.
This film is immoral. Fact. But somehow that only adds to the morbid fascination. Deadgirl has the ability to make us question ourselves and I love that.
I know people who love it, others who hate it, some who don't understand its meaning and others who feel they could simply do this movie better. There are those who feel repulsed by it, and those who get so angry they want to beat up certain characters from the movie. And yes, I am also pretty sure somewhere among my acquaintances is a naughty little necrophiliac who deems this movie perfect Sunday afternoon entertainment!
Whichever type of person you are, I think everyone should watch Deadgirl at least once, if only to question your own morals and explore your own perversions, whatever they may be.
Overall rating 7/10
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