Wednesday, September 30, 2009

DVD Views: Deadgirl

Deadgirl *
Directed by:
Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Hadrel.
Written By: Trent Haaga.
Starring: Shiloh Fernandez (Rickie), Noah Segan (J.T.), Michael Bowen (Clint), Candice Accola (JoAnn), Andrew DiPalma (Johnny), Eric Podnar (Wheeler), Nolan Gerard Funk (Dwyer).

If you have sex with an unwilling zombie is it rape, necrophilia or both? That is the interesting premise behind Deadgirl, a film that disappointingly decides to address the issue in the most facile and uninteresting way imaginable. Throughout the film, which is thoroughly unpleasant, and not in a good way, I kept imagining how good the film could have been if only the filmmakers had done something interesting with its premise.

Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and J.T. (Noah Sean) are two high school seniors (although they look old enough to be university graduates) who are not popular. They are essentially losers - poor, unatheletic kids tired of seeing the rich jocks get all the pretty girls. Rickie is in love with JoAnn (Candice Accola), but she is of course dating the biggest, dumbest, meanest, richest jock of them all. One day, Rickie and J.T. decide to cut school, and go drinking at the abandoned mental hospital (why do horror movies all seem to feature an abandoned mental hospital? Does every town in America have one of these?). While running from a rabid dog, they wind up in a strange little room, where they discover something strange. There is a beautiful, young woman strapped to a gurney. She is not dead, as she is groaning. Rickie and J.T. disagree on what to do next. Rickie wants to call the police. J.T. wants to keep her as her own personal sex plaything. Rickie decides to leave, and of course not tell anyone. Why? Because if he did, there would be no movie.

J.T. calls Rickie back the next day to show him sometime interesting. The girl cannot be killed. He has tried breaking her neck, strangling her and shooting her, and still she keeps on going just as strong as she was before. They figure out that she is a zombie, and then J.T. really decides that there is no reason why he cannot use her as his plaything. She’s not human anymore, so who are they hurting? Things get weirder as J.T. brings their friend Wheeler (Eric Podnar) to see the dead girl. Rickie is no fun anymore, as he won’t fuck the dead girl, although he continues to come back to the basement time and again, once trying to save her, but after that simply to try and talk some sense into J.T. Things get worse when the girl starts to rot and smell, making it harder to perform. So J.T. and Wheeler decide to try and make another dead girl, but making the current one bite another hot girl.

Watching Deadgirl I kept thinking about two vastly superior films - River’s Edge and An American Crime. In River’s Edge, a high school student murders his girlfriend, and leaves the body in a secluded spot. He keeps bragging about his crime, and bringing all of his friends to see the body - none of whom report the crime for a surprisingly long period of time. Even the kids who eventually do report it (Keanu Reeves and Ione Skye) spend a long time before they do report it - and even have time to have sex in a field before doing anything about the crime. In An American Crime, an abusive woman (Catherine Keener) locks a teen girl she is supposed to be watching (Ellen Page) in her basement for offending her. Gradually, Kenner’s kids start venturing down into the basement and torturing Page. They bring in dozens of neighborhood kids down to the basement so they can get in on the “fun” as well. Again, no one reports the crime until it is far too late.

Both of those films looked at the moral decay in society, particularly among young people. They don’t really see the victim as a person, and so they do not feel bad about what they do. This is what I think Deadgirl was trying to do, but it fails miserably. It adds in lame attempts at humor, and subplots about Rickie’s mother’s new girlfriend, and the love he has for JoAnn, that simple cloud the issue at hand in the film. The movie simply goes nowhere, does nothing interesting with its premise. It does not help that none of the principal actors really know what they are doing. And after spending so much time setting Rickie up as the only moral person in this universe, his final act makes no sense whatsoever - it is simply meant to shock an audience who has grown bored by the movie by this point. What could have been an interesting film is instead one of the worst films of the year. It’s no wonder that after playing last year’s Midnight Madness in Toronto that the film was not really heard of again until the DVD release.

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