Deadgirl (2008)

Wow, talk about difficult subject matter. "Deadgirl" turned a lot of people off when it hit the film festival scene back in 2008. I can't say I blame people for being offended. I had some of the same feelings after watching the film. Many thought, and probably still do, that the film makers main intent was to shock in the lowest common denominator way they could thing of. However, I think when you take a step back, there is something else going on within the film. Yes, the "zombie sex" thing is shocking and a difficult thing to wrap ones head around. But this film is more about decision making and it's consequences rather than anything that happens to the Deadgirl. She just happens to be the device the filmmakers use to convey their story or message.

Advertised as being from the producers of both "Hellraiser" and "Heathers," surprisingly "Deadgirl" has more in common with the latter than the former. Like "Heathers" the film is a cautionary tale set against the backound of life as an American teenager. Ricky (Shiloh Hernandez) and JT (Noah Segan) are best friends. Social outcasts, they regularly blow off school to drink or get high or whatever light hearted trouble they can get into. This pattern of behavior leads them to the basement of an abandoned mental asylum where they come face to face with a girl who's not quite alive and not wholly dead. How she should be dealt with and the events that follow their decisions are the main driving force of the film.

The script, written by Troma Alum Trent Haaga, certainly leads us through what could have been a cookie cutter miserable high school movie in an original, interesting way to say the least. JTs wonderfully evil decent in to madness is a joy to watch. It's obvious Haaga had a boatload of fun writing for the character. Unfortunately, because of this, the other characters seem to suffer and come off as one note stereotypes. Especially Ricky, who until the last few frames of the film, is nothing but an emo character study. His character hits all the stereotypical emo points - broken home, absentee parents, longing for the girl you loved years before who has now moved on to the jock. It's all there in full on Cobain mode. Fernandez does his best to Kristen Stewart his way through the role, but Ricky just comes off as a joyless miserable S.O.B. Why would JT, or anyone for that matter, want to hang around someone who's just so miserable? It's unfortunate that such an important part of the film is broken because there is so much that it does get right.

I mentioned it earlier, despite having one of the worst on screen haircuts I've ever seen, Noah Segan is tremendous as JT. His journey from innocent mischief maker to evil antagonist is far more interesting than Rickys. His spot on portrayal of JT almost has you empathizing with the character as he lays out his reasons for his actions despite how heinous those actions may be. Segan chews the scenery, especially during the last half of the film, milking every second of screen time for all it's worth. His performance alone elevates the film above your standard direct to DVD fare.

The film itself looks great. The overlays of blues purples and greys set a consistent visual tone throughout. Buoyed by an exceptional score that evens out what could be some rough transitions, Deadgirl certainly has the look and feel of a movie with a much larger budget. It's another film that despite budget limitations, the subject matter pretty much guaranteed a direct to DVD release, looks just as good as anything you might see on the big screen.

In the end, "Deadgirl" is an exercise in patience. If you can look past the obviously disgusting window dressing, what lies beneath is an interesting little film about the timeless pressures of growing up. If you can't, it's complete understandable, the subject matter is a tough thing to overlook, them pop in your copy of "Heathers" and reminisce about a time when Christian Slater was the coolest guy around.

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