Deadgirl (2008): Reviewed by Bryan Schuessler
I was fortunate enough to go to the Chicago Premiere of Deadgirl (2008) at the Music Box Theater on Southport last night. To my surprise, the actress who portrays the deadgirl, Jenny Spain, was in attendance. Following the incredible film was a Q & A, which I participated in, and the first 7 or 8 individuals that asked questions received a signed Deadgirl poster. I was quite the happy camper last night.
The film was shown in the Music Box’s smaller screen, much to my dismay, but that just meant that it was a much cosier atmosphere.
The film Deadgirl is the tale of two teenage pals, Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez, Skateland) and J.T. (Noah Segan, Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever) that are portrayed as the outcasts or losers, if you will, of their school. They are the ones always fantasizing of the hot girl at school that they never have the courage nor the nerve to ask them out on a date, too intimidated by the popular jocks that are always picking on them. When they decide to ditch school, grab some beers and break into an abandoned mental asylum and trash the place for kicks. When they come to a sealed door, there curiosity is piqued and they break into it. It is there that they find the deadgirl. The girl is lying completely naked chained and bound to a table with a plastic bag over her whole body. As dirty and unkempt as she was, you can tell that she would be extremely hot once cleaned up.
When J.T. decides to rape her, as she is bound to this metal table, she starts screaming and thrashing around, so he starts hitting her incessantly. Eventually, he grabs her throat and starts choking her, eventually squeezing so hard that he hears and feels her neck snapping.
J.T. calls over Rickie and tells him to bring his gun, which he does, and the twisted kid shoots her three times in her stomach area. She does not die. The boys are as perplexed at this as any normal human being would be and J.T. decides that this can be beneficial to fulfill his depraved needs and he begins using her as his personal sexual slave, screwing her all day and almost everyday.
The film has been categorized as torture-porn, rape flick, and revenge film. But, when it really comes down to it, it is not any of these. It has far more depth and meaning than any Saw, Hostel, or Last House on the Left films ever did. The film really centers on values and choices, decisions that two young, sexually-pumped teenage boys must make in regards to what is right and wrong. It is a film about morals, coming of age, and making decisions that are very tough to make when one is uninformed and thinking with their “member” and not their brain. I may be making one hell of a stretch with this comparison, but I found Deadgirl to have more in common with Stand by Me and American Beauty then it ever did with any of the aforementioned horror films such as Saw, Last House on the Left, or even I Spit on Your Grave. Some may even label it a zombie film, as the girl clearly should be dead after having her neck broken, shot three times in vital areas, and not even eating food nor getting any nutrients whatsoever locked up in a dark, wet room in an abandoned mental asylum. But it is neither of these. The scenes portrayed in the film that may shock you were not filmed for mere shock value- the film has much more meaning than that. It is a deep film that calls into question what would you do if you were a horny teenager and you had a beautiful girl shackled up that did not speak, could not get any help and no one knew about. Would you want to experiment sexually with this girl that you had no chance to get with in real life ever?
The film is about temptation, morals, values, and friendship. After Shiloh and J.T. have their first disagreement over the deadgirl, Shiloh taking the higher road and refusing to partake in the raping of the girl and causing a noticeable rift between the two’s friendship, the scene is set for further tension between the characters as each has chosen whether he wants to do what is right or wrong.
Director Marcel Sarmiento and Co-director Gadi Harel crafted a wonderfully morbid, powerful, and creatively shot masterpiece. I was transfixed on the story, acting, humor (yes, there was some incredibly funny scenes of dialogue at times) throughout the whole film. The acting was extremely natural, believable, and convincing. I believe this film will be one of the best films I have seen in the theaters thus far. Jenny Spain really did an excellent job as the tortured young girl tied naked to a table for the whole movie. Some of the scenes of abuse looked so real and convincing that if I did not have a chance to see her and talk to her after the movie, I would think she would surely be bruised and marked up from this film. Some of the scenes were extremely violent and bloody, laced with some very well-done gore-not too much and not too little. It was the right amount of blood and violence, not cheapening the film and keeping with its relentless tone throughout.
Deadgirl is a unique film that has come out amidst the remake and adaptation craze that Hollywood and many directors are caught up in and is a nice refreshing change of pace for movie-goers and fans of horror all around.