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Deadgirl (DVD Review)

12 Sep, 2009 By: Billy Gil


Street 9/15/09
MPI/Dark Sky
$24.98 DVD
Available in ‘R’ and unrated editions.
Stars Shiloh Fernandez, Noah Segan, Michael Bowen, Candice Accola, Eric Podnar.

Is Deadgirl, about teenagers who use a chained-up zombie as their sex slave, a frat boy fantasy or arthouse provocation? I could see the argument being made for the former, but I feel it is the latter.

Deadgirl starts with two high-school boys, Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and J.T. (Noah Segan), ditching class and hitting up an abandoned hospital for the mentally ill. There, they find their chained “dead girl,” a beautiful, naked woman with dead eyes who barely breathes.

The set-up is mundane, but several elements lift Deadgirl to the heights of modern horror. The acting is natural and memorable. Fernandez is an Edward Furlong lookalike, with Zac Effron’s great hair and Joaquin Phoenix’s sly grin, and he renders Rickie perfectly, both sympathetic and pathetic in his attempts to woo the girl of his dreams (JoAnn, played by Candice Accola) and stop J.T. and the other boys from doing the unthinkable.

But the film belongs to Segan, who captures every nuance of J.T.’s steady descent into utter depravity, sinisterly posing moral questions to excuse his own indiscretions and touching on underlying themes of suburban isolation and homoerotic longing.

Co-directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel, both relative newcomers, as well as camp horror writer Trent Haaga have a screwed-up winner on their hands with Deadgirl. It cuts deeper than expected, with the sex, gore and big scares appearing rather infrequently, given the premise, though the gore is rather grisly, and plenty of female (and male) viewers could understandably have a hard time getting over the misogynistic premise and rape scenes. Buoyed by excellent performances and a cool soundtrack, Deadgirl is a thoroughly twisted ride.

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