Deadgirl (2008): United States – directed by Marcel Sarmiento and co-directed by Gadi Harel
Rated R by the MPAA – contains language, violence, nudity, sex, mature themes
This is sort of a horror movie, I guess. It could have been an interesting study into the messed up minds of men, but it ultimately can’t quite shake being a mere horror movie. Even as a horror movie, though, it’s never particularly scary or frightening. There’s some gore and some violence, but it’s primarily the theme that is disturbing and allows the film to be called a horror movie. The theme is rather interesting, or perhaps could have been if the filmmakers had been interested in exploring the consequences of what it portrays on screen.
Deadgirl centers around high school friends J.T. (Noah Segan) and Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez). They are slightly outcast but still have a few friends. One day after school they decide to explore the local abandoned sanitarium. It’s a huge, towering building a little ways away from the town, and apparently no one cares or knows much about it anymore. They decide to break in and trash the place, because that’s what teenagers do for fun.
As they descend deeper into the bowels of the building they discover two interesting things. One is a ferocious guard dog. The other is a door that’s been rusted shut for some time. They run away from the dog and break through the door. Behind the door they discover something disturbingly odd; a naked girl on a table, covered with a plastic sheet. Even more disturbing than that, it appears that she’s alive.
Well, what to do with her is the next question, and the dilemma that rends J.T. and Rickie apart. Rickie thinks the cops ought to know, but J.T. figures that it doesn’t matter anyway. The girl’s alive and behind a door that’s been rusted shut for quite some time. Who could even know about her? So, even though Rickie has his reservations, it is decided that they will keep the girl as their little secret. Even more interesting, though, is what J.T. discovers after the first day: she can’t die.
Things get worse from there, because what else would teenage boys do with a girl locked away in a dark place? And this is the interesting theme that could have been explored if the film had any desire to plumb the depths of human perversity. This could have gone into some dark recesses of the human mind, but instead it follows a more conventional storyline. It brings to mind the Japanese film Blind Beast, which sets up a disturbing scenario and follows it to an inevitable conclusion.
This isn’t a bad film. It’s adequately made, and even though the two leads look like they had their scenes cut from Twilight they manage to be effective in their respective roles. The supporting cast is adequate. The writing, which usually suffers in a production like this, stands up rather well. The sanitarium could have been used better, as similar locations have in films like Session 9. The subject matter is disturbing and will satisfy many horror fans. Don’t expect a ridiculous amount of blood or gore, although it does deserve its “R” rating (the unrated cut, which I saw, is the same length and substitutes some shots for supposedly less graphic ones.) As a horror film it’s worth watching for horror fans. Other folks would probably not be interested.