Deadgirl: Unrated Director's Cut
R1 - America - Dark Sky Films
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (7th January 2010).
The Film

Even though I haven’t necessarily liked all of the movies that I’ve seen coming out of Dark Sky films, just their existence and continued releases brings me a bit of joy. I’ve been really impressed by their weird selection of exploitation films, ranging from the beautiful like “Ricco the Mean Machine” (1973) and the dumb “Games Girls Play” (1974). I was glad that they had also been expanding into new releases like the independent film “Deadgirl” (2008). Necrophilia isn’t exactly a subject you pitch to Paramount, but bring it by Dark Sky and they’ll give you a shot. Unfortunately this little slice of zombie rape doesn’t quite live up to the hype surrounding it, or even the Troma roots of writer Trent Haaga as it lacks the fun and absurdity to make it interesting and winds up a big angsty mess.

Despite getting to be the titular character, the deadgirl (Jenny Spain) isn’t really a character in the movie. Instead it’s about two loner/angsty goth-ish teens who are on the outskirts of their highschool and one day while they are skipping class they manage to stumble upon an abandoned hospital that they have fun trashing and crashing through. Once they get to the basement, they find a woman’s body covered in plastic and chained to a gourney and the two have fairly opposite reactions. Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) leaves while J.T. (Noah Segan) decides they should have sex with her, despite the whole corpse issue. J.T. soon realizes that this corpse, who they have named deadgirl, is animated and has fun killing it and sexing it, reserving it for himself, Rickie and Wheeler (Eric Podnar) to use. Unfortunately Rickie has his eyes set on the popular girl at school, but gets beat up when he tries to approach her, leading Wheeler to reveal the dead girl and threaten their secret.

All this movie seemed to prove was that a disgusting premise does not an entertainingly disgusting movie make. Raping zombified corpses chained in abandoned hospitals is pretty gross, and they spend a lot of time showing off the naked body of the deadgirl, but this film lacks the sort of gory joy that would seem to come along with the material. It’s almost the exact opposite scenario of a movie like “Teeth” (2007) that managed to be an interesting and more real look at teenagers with a horror aspect that was both wince inducing (at the very least for those with penises) and hilarious. “Deadgirl” manages to just try and play up the bizzareness of the plot. There’s a section where a jock forces the deadgirl to have oral sex, whereupon she bites off part of his penis, while he later poops out all his intestines and becomes a deadperson. Sounds awesome right? However the film just can’t execute on the ideas, not from a production level, but just creatively.

A big problem comes with the actors, who are supposed to be teenagers but are just 20 somethings looking like pedophiles stalking around a high school. Fernandez is just a really really really really broke man’s Joaquin Phoenix (minus the beard and rap career), trying to imitate his mannerisms in acting but just really shallowly. Segan is just as bad bringing in a weird almost southern accent that fades in and out depending on different moments in the film. These two try so hard to act out their angst it’s overwhelmingly bad.

But part of that may have come with a script that likely had half of the script modified by adjectives like angsty or angstily. After seeing Haaga’s name attached to “Toxic Avenger IV: Citizen Toxie” (2000) I hoped for something far more fun and Troma. Unfortunately I got a Richard Kelly wanna-be who tries to make mysterious and interesting characters, but fails. Even the music tries to go for the “Donnie Darko” (2001) vibe with lots of piano and bicycle riding, again failing. Plot wise and material wise there could be something in the movie, turning it into a theatre of the bizarre like a “Human Centipede” (2009) that is so far out there that you don’t know what to think.

This problem isn’t a dilemma in the film, it doesn’t exactly aim to be a bizarrely hilarious movie or a obscenely crazy movie, it tries to be a drama with weird material and the writing just isn’t there for it. It’s an indie film that tries to be a horror movie and doesn’t quite succeed even with the necrophilic rape content. Just focusing on these two poorly created supposedly teens I care nothing for the film, or its characters, and any chance it gets to bring me out of my seat with a castration or the pooping of intestines it dramatically underperforms and under shows despite it’s ‘Director’s Cut’ label.

Plus the fact that Michael Bowen has a couple of scenes in the movie, bringing a “Lost” (2004-2010) connection (he played Danny Pickett in season 3) that should have brought a little bit of enjoyment through the transitive property of lost, it seems to fall even flatter.

Video

Presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio the film looks surprisingly clean despite the low budget of the film, but still has a bit of the muddiness associated with the production levels and the DVD format. There are some of the low lit scenes in the basement of the abandoned building that do a good job of showing off the grunge and grit, but some of the close-ups get a little more diluted and less clean in their colors and presentation. Still there’s a good amount of production in the film’s visual look, even if the content and direction is a little lacking.

Audio

The film comes with only an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, giving a good range to the soundtrack that takes pages and pages out of “Donnie Darko”’s book (not the one about time, but the metaphorical one that contains the score) without effectively getting a good mood going to the film. Unless the intended mood was ‘hey remember “Donnie Darko.”’ Still the transfer of the sound comes through well, the weird noises like the squishes when J.T. fingers bullet holes and the ambient sounds of the film all come through pretty well.
There’s also a set of English subtitles to the film.

Extras

The disc comes with a small smattering of extra’s boasting an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, a featurette, gallery and a theatrical trailer.

First up is the audio commentary with directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel, director of photography Harris Charalambous, editor Phillip Blackford, composer Joseph Bauer, writer Trent Haaga and finally actors Noah Segan and Shiloh Fernandez. The huge crowd for the commentary does a good job of keeping things organized and talking through the film together without talking over each other or just reverting into joking. Much of the commentary is consists with comments about the film itself, lots of praise for the film, speaking to the tone of the film and praising all the aspects from the music composition to the acting. It’s a fairly informative commentary, but with some of the odd pauses it seems a little scripted or re-edited together.

Next is a making of featurette that runs for 7 minutes and 15 seconds called “Exquisite Corpse: The Making of ‘Deadgirl.’” The film talks with the directors and major players who came along for the commentary track, dealing with how they put together “Deadgirl” as a feature film. Beginning with Harel’s friendship with Haaga and getting a hold of the script while also doing a bit of description for the film itself. It’s the usual combination of behind-the-scenes footage and talking heads to describe the film with some clips. Whats weird is that it’s so brief considering the oddities of the plot, but after watching it you realize that the film’s base motivations are so simplistic in the angst of it, there’s not a ton to say about the film, especially after having a full commentary track as well.

There is a make-up effects gallery with Jim Ojala, that’s basically a slide show with still photos of effects production with text from Ojala on it, containing about 27 images or slides, giving you some great details on the films production, even showing of a prosthetic penis that went severly underutilized in the biting scene.

The deleted scenes is a single reel that runs for 7 minutes and 28 seconds, including a little bit of the time encoding on the frame as well as textual explanations of why each scene was cut or a little background on the scene before it shows. The first scene is when they enter the hospital, the second is Johnny getting taken to the hospital then an encounter between J.T. and Rickie. The third is Rickie thinking about butts and the deadgirl after finding her. The fourth involves dumping the corpse of Dwyer that was apparently a hard scene to cut for the directors. The final scene is dubbed ‘The Easter Egg’ and is a cut scene that was apparently too joke-y to make the final cut.

The theatrical trailer runs for 2 minutes and 25 seconds.

Overall

The Film: D- Video: B+ Audio: B- Extras: C+ Overall: C+

 


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