Written by: deadhorse13
The age-old adage "boys will be boys" takes an alarming turn in Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel's controversial feature Deadgirl. Take 1 part Porky's, 1 part Weird Science, 1 part River's Edge, and 1 part Nekromantik and you're still not close to the strange brew concocted here. The film can be seen as a morbid coming-of-age drama considering it shares the same general concerns. Friendship, angst, peer pressure, alienation, temptation and morals are all represented. And what coming-of-age film would be complete without some sex? Well this is where our lucky lady of the title literally comes into play, and what gives Deadgirl its specific, shall we say, charm. Who knew that exploiting the living undead could hold such grave consequence?
Two outcasts, JT and Rickie, decide to go drink beers at "the nuthouse" (an abandoned asylum) where they carouse, trash the place, get chased by one very angry dog and find a sealed room they break into. To their astonishment, they discover a naked girl wrapped in plastic bound to a table, who appears dead but really isn't - at least not in the natural sense. Rickie wants to do the right thing and alert the authorities, but JT, being the stronger personality of the duo, convinces him otherwise. After some "experimentation", JT finds out that nothing can actually kill the dead girl. JT then decides to make the most of the situation and turns their little secret into his personal sex slave. As to be expected, things can only get worse from here.
The basic premise, as outlandish and disturbing as it is, holds a certain ring of truth which makes the film pretty effective as a whole. Furthermore, the acting from our leads is excellent. Noah Segan as JT really sells his descent into madness as he indulges his sadistic whims, and Shiloh Fernandez gives a solid performance as the indeterminate Rickie. Deadgirl could have easily fallen into parody had it not been for the chemistry on display between them. There are some attempts at dry (ahem) humor too, and this is where Deadgirl felt most awkward. Had the film been delivered in an entirely serious tone It would have been a much more unnerving experience. The psychological aspects of the story give it its pulse, and when it veers from this terrain is when it stumbles. These attempts to lighten the mood also upset the pacing, but it still keeps you watching to the bittersweet end. I did laugh here and there, I admit, but I felt dirty for doing so, and maybe that was the point.
Deadgirl's subject matter is indeed perverse, and the sex and violence is occasionally graphic, but more is wisely left to suggestion. There are definately some creepy images and sequences to warrant some scares, and there is enough emotional gristle to keep you involved throughout. Unfortunately there is a little too much focus on what's going on with the girl's body than what is going on in JT's brain for my taste. It could have been a far more chilling film had it delved a little deeper intellectually, but it does offer some bold meditations in its unfolding. Despite the uneven direction, Deadgirl remains a powerful (and very cynical) social indictment. After viewing the film you'll find yourself determining who is JT in your circle of friends (I think we all know one or two), and that notion is far more horrifying than the enigma in question.