Deadgirl (Dark Sky Films, NR)

film_deadgirl_sm.jpgThis would be a lot of fun to see on a big screen at midnight with a bunch of like-minded moviegoers.






My main motivation to see the new horror film Deadgirl stems from the fact that it is being programmed pretty much exclusively at midnight at theaters around the country, something that occurs less and less these days. The last couple of times I can remember that happening in St. Louis were with such films as Terror Firmer, Audition and Gummo, so skipping a regular run and going directly to the midnight slot is a pretty ringing endorsement all its own.

The premise of Deadgirl is typical horror, but with more of a skew toward not really having definite heroes and villains. We begin with two high school buddies, Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and J.T. (Noah Segan, channeling Heathers-era Christian Slater), exploring (and making a mess in) an abandoned mental hospital near their house until, in one dark, remote corner of the hospital, they happen across the titular dead girl, naked and wrapped in plastic, Twin Peaks-style. Although the hospital has been completely abandoned for years, they are alarmed to find that this deadgirl is actually still alive: alive, naked, tied down and very attractive, as it happens. So, what do you expect our red-blooded young boys to do with her? Well, whatever you’re thinking both is what happens and isn’t, and Deadgirl‘s refusal to go where you think it’s going is one of its stronger points.

That isn’t to say that Deadgirl is a great film. It’s not. However, it would be a lot of fun to see on a big screen at midnight with a bunch of like-minded moviegoers, unlike the tired screenings of stuff like Donnie Darko and The Goonies. For those of you who had the opportunity to see Mitchell Lichtenstein’s Teeth a couple of years ago, Deadgirl is pretty much on par with that as far as midnight movies go.

The screenwriter for Deadgirl is Troma alum Trent Haaga, co-writer of Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger, Part Four, and I’m glad to see him parlaying his experience at Troma into similarly repugnant but somehow more mainstream films, á la James Gunn. Haaga aside, directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel worked wonders with what had to have been a very small budget. All of Deadgirl is appropriately slick and creepy, and they even managed to find room in the budget for a halfway decent soundtrack featuring songs from Radiohead, Animal Collective and Iron & Wine. Perhaps the real find here is Jenny Spain, the dead girl in question, who can effectively creep you out just by glazing her eyes and leaving her mouth slightly agape. | Pete Timmermann

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