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View Count: 3
First/Last Viewed:2009.12.03/2015.04.09
First/Last Reviewed:2009.12.04/2010.08.08

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ldh's review

Once in a while, someone asks me why i watch so many movies. The answer is simply that i love movies. But then the question becomes: how can you watch so many movies? Yes, i do watch many: with about one month left to go in 2009, i have watched over 800 films already. Yep, that's over 2 films a day. I can watch 60-70 movies a month in average. My secret is that i can bend time to slow it down, and so i have more than 24 hours per day to enjoy life! No joke.

I am not really proud of watching so many movies or anything like that: it just is. I just love it, although i do get to see a lot of crappy or mediocre movies, most of them really. But once in a while i catch a real gem that makes the past 10 turkeys worth it, a movie that i simply wouldn't have caught otherwise and end up loving. I may have seen a quick trailer, or read a quick review, and that was enough to tickle me and make me want to try it. I put it on my Netflix queue that is hundreds long, and a year later or so, after bubbling up to the top, the movie ends up in my mailbox. My bar is pretty low because i want to experience all kinds of movies, and i can!

Deadgirl (2008) is such a movie that immediately made me forget the 10 lemons that preceded it. Within the first 20mn, it became one of my favorite horror films of all time and didn't let go until the end. It instantly joined the ranks of sick, twisted and perverted fares i love such as:

These are just a few off the top of my head from my much larger list of favorites, and if you call yourself a horror fan, these are must-see. Then you have to add this movie. Deadgirl (2008) is probably one of the most original Zombie movie i have ever seen, although i believe i may have to argue with another horror fan one day that it is indeed a Zombie movie and not something else. It is gritty, suspenseful, horrific, twisted, unsettling, and i didn't move from my seat the whole time. The story is dead simple.

Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and J.T. (Noah Segan) are two best high school loser geeks buddies who have known each other since kindergarten. Rickie is shy and introverted while J.T. is aggressive and edgy. One day, they accidentally discover a girl (Jenny Spain) in the basement of an old abandoned asylum: she is naked, shackled on a table, covered by a sheet of plastic, and dead... Or is she? As soon as the boys approach her, she takes a breath of air and open her eyes. Startled, Rickie freaks out and leaves while J.T. stays, fascinated by the girl. But quickly, that initial fascination turns into a sick fantasy. With nobody around, and apparently no risk (she seems under the influence of heavy drugs), he decides to rape her. The girl immediately reacts violently, tries to bite him, and to "defend" himself, he strangles her to death... Except that a few minutes later, she takes a breath of air again. Stunned, J.T. tries to strangle her again, and then stabs her and shoots her, but the girl simply won't die. What follows is that the dead girl becomes J.T.'s sex object and he starts to bring in another loser pothead friend to show her off. Who is the girl? What is she? Where does she come from? She can obviously be very dangerous, so who is going to mess up this paradise on earth and be killed?

INTERNATIONAL TRAILER

This movie is certainly not for most people. It is very unsettling and provocative. It has ample gore but also graphic "rape" scenes and an imagery of 16-year old or so boys at the cusp of adulthood about to make one big giant mistake. This movie is interesting because it works on so many layers of social commentary. First, there is the obvious woman-as-a-sex-object theme, where several teenagers take as an excuse that she is dead (or rather undead, as if it were any relevant to what was going on) to do unspeakable things to her. She doesn't speak, is inanimate most of the time, and is purely an object except when she gets animated and she becomes a danger. As a sex fantasy, she is OK as long as she is controlled, 100% subdued. Otherwise, she is deadly. It's a complete binary state, and the ultimate objectification of woman. The language J.T. uses to convince others at the school to join in is disturbing as well and only reinforces the core tenants of the film. Ultimately, as any good movie in the genre of the past 10 years (Audition (1999) showed the way), women get the upper hand and terminally dispose of their aggressors. There is a very funny scene where 2 teenagers try to kidnap a woman at a gas station which turns out in unexpected ways, and in the final scene, the girl frees herself and goes on a rampage. The aggressive cro-magnon  male figures get what they deserve.

Second, it's also a coming of age story where boys are becoming men and have to take decisions that will affect their "morality" as future adults. Whereas JT descends into horrific acts and loses a complete sense of what's appropriate, Rickie simply cannot take that step and is more and more repulsed by his former friend. United at the hip for so many years, buddies forever, the boys take diametrically opposed paths and become enemies to the death.

Third, mixing death and sex is a potent choice to rattle some cages. It is a common fascination for any healthy teenagers. But taken to the extreme, it certainly becomes pathological. The Zombie theme adds an interesting twists that effectively enables the young men to transgress their morality with almost a built-in sense of impunity since she's dead. As if her being dead, even if that were literally the case, changed anything to the horror of the acts. It's a complete sociopathic disconnect. I thought this was to me one of the most important part of this film. Is an act good or evil in and of itself, irrespective of any context, or is good and evil relative? I have asked myself those questions relentlessly in the past decade with many events surrounding the war on terror such as the use of torture. It is easy to take sides in a shallow way, but thinking harder about the subject takes a lot more time. In this film, a combination of a degrading attitude towards woman (it's telling that one of the kids has no mother it seems) and the hint of "it's OK because she is dead", something that is completely absurd in the real world, turns the story upside down. I think that this is a reveling plot device. To relate to the war on terror idea, is the act of torture ultimately a reflection on the perpetrator, and an act in and of itself that damages the perpetrator to its soul? That's even if the people captured were the worst human beings on earth with kept secrets about imminent biblical doom? In the film, at the end of the day, the girl is a Zombie and as such, disposable morally. Yet, the acts are degrading to the teens themselves: the teens find themselves irremediably corrupted by them, from that first step they took in that questionable direction.

Finally, the writing is so damn good that so much is, and remains, mysterious, without i felt, making the film frustrating. Because there are so many other layers to hang your hat on, the main mystery surrounding the girl is something that can be left to the imagination. We never find out who the girl is, where she comes from, and what she is, but that's OK. This is why i say that one day, i see myself arguing with another horror fan about whether this qualifies as a Zombie movie or not. To me, the behavior of the girl makes her obviously a Zombie. But i can understand why some people may think otherwise i guess. In a double writing twist, the dead girl is not just an object in the story, but it's also a device in the structure of the film too.

This is a fantastic movie for the true horror fan. It is violent, gruesome, and touches on so many social themes in a very raw fashion that many people will be turned off just by that alone. But otherwise, a complex multi-dimensional story that is sophisticated and original, great visual execution, and very good performances overall, all add up to create a unique experience. Highly recommended. I am jealous of this film. I wish i had written and directed something like this. The whole production team is fantastic and i can't wait to see more from them.


- Laurent Hasson