Review: Deadgirl

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Scaring a modern audience becomes increasingly difficult as each subsequent horror movie is released. Slasher films make us giggle rather than give us nightmares. Gore is a necessity rather than a surprise. It’s becoming clear that we need new ways to be scared.

Deadgirl attempts to give us a different type of horror by combining gory frights with a deeper, intensely shocking concept, that explores the horror of typical teen sexuality. This combination almost makes for a great film, but the full sum of all the films parts contain so many varied missteps that it’s hard to see the movie as anything but a flawed execution of a great idea.Â

Scaring a modern audience becomes increasingly difficult as each subsequent horror movie is released. Slasher films make us giggle rather than give us nightmares. Gore is a necessity rather than a surprise. It's becoming clear that we need new ways to be scared.

Deadgirl attempts to give us a different type of horror by combining gory frights with a deeper, intensely shocking concept, that explores the horror of typical teen sexuality. This combination almost makes for a great film, but the full sum of all the films parts contain so many varied missteps that it's hard to see the movie as anything but a flawed execution of a great idea. {{page_break}}

The first thirty minutes of Deadgirl make it seem like one of the worst horror movies ever made, and that's honestly no exaggeration. The film opens with one of the dumbest lines of dialogue I think I've ever heard, and it quickly moves to an abandoned hospital where JT (Noah Segan) and Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) explore creepy hallways and flee from a very angry dog. Luckily, the film takes on an entirely different tone once the boys discover a naked woman who can't die chained down in a hidden room. When JT realizes that she can become their own personal sex slave, the film finally gets off the ground.

Essentially, what the film attempts to do is expose the ridiculousness of high school teen sexuality. The women in the film, especially Deadgirl (which is seriously her name), are never treated with even a semblance of humanity by any of the characters besides Rickie, the film's only slightly redeeming male character. Even other females in the film are treated like tools or worse, and really only come into focus for their sexuality. 

As a concept for a horror film, it's quite effective. Parallels are drawn often between Deadgirl and other female characters, forcing the viewer to see them as equal. The treatment of other female characters in the film can even seem normal early on until these comparisons begin to become more frequent, at which point the viewer really begins to realize how horrifying these characters truly are, especially once viewers begin to be reminded of real, breathing people who were (or are) just like these sex-crazed teenagers.

However, it quickly becomes apparent just how shallow the characters truly are. Sure, painting almost all the males as irredeemable jackasses is a good way to get your message across, but it leads to a long list of characters that don't have any particular function. They're just there to suggest, "All male teens just want to have sex with things." That's not the level of depth that this film deserved.

It's also unfortunate that there are so many scenes that really don't do anything with this concept. As stated before, the early scenes of the film are pretty terrible, and for every great scene that shows the continued dehumanization of Deadgirl, there's one involving stupid teen drama, Rickie's home life (which is nowhere near necessary to the story), or an obnoxious subplot involving Rickie and a girl he loves, JoAnn. All of these elements seem included solely to make Rickie a sympathetic character, but the absolute abhorrence of every other character does that job just fine.

Similarly, the vast majority of the film's dialogue is just as stupid and shallow as its characters, and whether this was deliberate or not is beside the point. It's bad, and it interferes with the execution of the film's original goal. It's hard to focus on the themes of sexual violence and the typical, "OMG hot girl I want to sex her" attitude when awkward dialogue is being delivered awkwardly by a cast that is nothing if not inconsistent.

Still, this is the sort of film that sticks with you based on concept alone, and its execution is at least satisfactory enough to make it worth viewing. As a horror film, it's really not scary after the first time you experience Deadgirl's horric thrashing. But the truth contained in the film's premise will reveal the horror of the real world, and there's plenty of horror there to explore. A better film, however, would have revealed it in much more satisfying detail.

Overall Score: 5.90  Bad. (5s are movies that either failed at reaching the goals it set out to do, or didn’t set out to do anything special and still had many flaws. Some will enjoy 5s, but unless you’re a fan of this genre, you shouldn’t see it, and might not even want to rent it.)

Deadgirl has a great concept, but it doesn't get anywhere close to fulfilling its promise. With some uneven acting, atrocious dialogue, and uninteresting cinematography, this is a film that's hard to recommend for anything more than its premise.