Posted by: Peter Hall
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel, 2008
Written by Trent Haaga
Before watching DEADGIRL I was reading a recap at EvilOnTwoLegs.com of Fangoria’s most recent Weekend of Horrors in NYC. Jon was recounting actors and directors across multiple panels who all lamented America’s new remake fueled industry, an industry that leaves no room for risk taking. Well I hope someone gives the original cast of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT a copy of Marcel Armiento and Gadi Harel’s DEADGIRL, which is exactly the kind of film the industry doesn’t have room for any more, a film from the independent sector gambling for notoriety with nothing to lose.
And notoriety is precisely what DEADGIRL found on the festival circuit and is bound to find in the years to come. What else can filmmakers expect when they make a movie about two high school aged outcasts, Rickie and JT, who find the naked and bound body of a pretty girl in the basement of an abandoned insane asylum. Soon discovering that the pretty girl is a pretty undead girl, the degenerate boys take advantage of the situation. Undeterred by her lack of a pulse, dead girl’s body becomes their private adolescent play ground.
I don’t think I need to explain the risks involved with such a film. I also don’t think I need to explain that I’m having a hard time conjuring up a more misogynistic horror film than DEADGIRL. Sarmiento and Harel have no agenda other than to push buttons, to get people talking about their manifested controversy. I cannot fault an agenda of this sort as it cuts to the core of what all horror movies aspire to do, particularly since few recent American titles with actual talent behind the camera have yearned so deeply for the grunge and the grime as DEADGIRL. But simply reaching the end of an agenda does not guarantee that something special has been accomplished.
DEADGIRL has an obvious strategy and a campaign to reach it staffed with admirable performances, great makeup and a measured hand to pull the wool over the audience’s eyes, but it doesn’t have a point. It’s a well crafted but hollow repulsion, the film equivalent of chugging ipecac on an empty stomach.