So I recently caught a viewing of Deadgirl. And I’m still not sure what to think.
Let me rewind this back for a second. ‘Deadgirl’ is one of a couple films I had really been excited to see that had been caught up in distributory Hell for quite a while (the others being the as-yet-unreleased Trick ‘R Treat and the recently released Arc.) Of the three, it’s probably easiest to understand why ‘Deadgirl’ had such a hard time finding anyone willing to buy the rights and eventually release it – the question of how the hell you market a film like ‘Deadgirl’, whose content matter resonates heavily with themes of rape and necrophilia. Yeah, ‘Arc’ definitely pushed (and probably obtained, though it was released unrated) the NC-17 barrier, but ‘Deadgirl’ just blasts right through it.
The basic plot goes something like this: high school burnouts Rickie and JT (unfortunately, played by ~25-year-old actors, something I find annoying with movies) decide to ditch school one day to do nothing in particular. Nothing in particular involves getting drunk, breaking into an abandoned mental hospital and laying waste to all the clutter left behind. It also involves stumbling across a hidden room in the catacombs of the building, door rusted shut and blocked by an assortment of tables and cabinets. Obviously, no one has been in the room for quite some time. The guys eventually force the door open and discover a nude female body inside, chained to a table. She looks dead. But as they soon find out, she is not.
Saying much more would probably ruin the movie, so I’ll leave it as basic as possible. This is a film that really asks a lot of questions, and on the surface, probably shouldn’t be as “deep” as it is. But then I wonder if it was really deep or not after considering the ending, which is fairly reductive and perhaps makes one of the more unflattering suggestions about men (humanity?) in cinematic history. It’s certainly a movie about ethics and humanity, the extent of depravity, objectification…all in a really bizarre coming-of-age framing, at ages where characters are surely primarily motivated by their sexual desires. I got those things. For all the questions they propose, though, perhaps the greatest is whether or not we should care if the ultimate assertion is that this journey ends in all the wrong places. I doubt a whole lot of other people have seen it, but if they disagree, I’d love to hear their take.
That said, it was still a fascinating movie, and probably the most daring movie I’ve ever seen. It’s easy to label this sort of film, but thanks to some skillful directing and at least enough good performances where it matters (namely Shiloh Fernandez), it eschews these attempts to pidgeonhole ‘what’ the movie is per se. The soundtrack is also pretty damn good. It’s worth a watch, if nothing else to say you saw it, and dare someone to top it with a more messed up movie.