TIFF Review: DEADGIRL
Ladies, pay attention. Deadgirl directors Marcel Sarmien and Gadi Harel have something to say about what it means to be male and lets just say it aint real flattering towards the manly gender. Nope, not a bit. Built around a stellar premise and a nonstop flow of shocking imagery and set pieces Deadgirl is sure to be one of the most talked about films of the year and is virtually certain of finding a home with one of the larger distributors, though it's hard to shake the feeling that it never quite lives up to the promise of its premise.
JT and Ricky are two typical teenage kids. Not particularly interested in classes, not particularly good at sports, not from the right part of town, the pair are most definitely not in with the cool kids and more inclined to cut classes than attend. The only thing that really keeps Ricky at school at all is the presence of JoAnn - the girl he's loved since childhood, currently dating the biggest jock in the place - and the only thing that seems to keep JT around - as much as he stays around, really - is Ricky. There is, however, one thing that sets the pair apart, one thing that they have that nobody else does. You see, one day while killing time in an abandoned asylum the pair discovered, deep in a sealed and forgotten room, the naked body of a seemingly dead girl covered in plastic and chained to a table.
Only she doesn't seem to be dead after all. And, as they quickly learn, she can't be killed. Wild, feral, nothing but aggression and impulse it's hard to even think of her as human. Ricky wants to cut her free and go to the police. JT, by far the stronger personality of the two, disagrees. Nobody knows she's here. Nobody will ever come for her. She's not even really human. Surely we can find some better use for her. She is, after all, smoking hot. And, in case you've forgotten, naked.
And so we go, things quickly spiraling out of control. Ricky is repulsed at his friend but misguided loyalty keeps him from taking any definitive action. JT just sinks lower and lower, indulging his every whim. And if there's one thing about teen boys it's that they can't keep their mouths shut and word quickly spreads ...
Deadgirl obviously, is oing to get tongues wagging. It is explicitly violent, filled with bursts of shocking gore, and equally explicit sexually. Is this what coming of age looks like in our commodofied times, when we think of everything - people included - as objects to be consumed and disposed of at will? This is objectification of women pushed out to ludicrous, though frighteningly plausible, extremes. Like it or not we all know people who would choose JT's path, we probably wouldn't even have to think very hard to make a list of them, and that's where the film's true horror lies. As shocking as this is, as far fetched as the premise, on an emotional level it is entirely plausible.
Deadgirl has a number of images and sequences guaranteed to sear themselves into your brain, moments of moral degradation you won't quickly shake off. And, in this context,that is a very good thing. Less good, however, are some pacing problems in places and the sense that the subtextual issues are never really explored fully, it doesn't really go any farther than saying that guys are essentially dicks. This is true, of course, but it would have been nice to explore that a little bit more and maybe get some taste - any taste at all, really - of why and / or the female consequences.