DEADGIRL: Movie Review

Deadgirl Movie Review
by Jason Lees

I have to admit, the first time I saw DEADGIRL, for the first 99 minutes, I hated the film. It wasn’t just the unlikable characters or the distasteful subject matter. No, I normally love movies where you’re not supposed to root for the hero, where the leads are as pleasant as a battery acid enema. And as for the subject matter, the repeated portrayal of what can only be called ambulatory acts of necrophilia, that never got to me. Years of far sicker films left me pretty much immune to that. There was something else about DEADGIRL that just turned me off.

The story was fine, fresh even. Haaga’s script deals with two outcast teens (Fernandez and Segan) trying to make the best of their station in life. If they see a chance to skip class, they take it. If they come across an abandoned hospital, they break in. Those windows are just there, waiting for them to break them. Beers are meant to be drank. And that still moving corpse they find in the sub-subbasement is just meant to be theirs, too. And by ‘theirs’, we are talking about in the biblical sense.

Now, in DEADGIRL’s defense, the film’s central character doesn’t succumb to her festering charms. No, you see, he’s in love with the girl next door type, not the six feet under type. It’s his best (and only) friend that sees their newly found girl as his romantic lead. While our hero pines for his redheaded beauty, our other lead keeps the zombie as a love slave chained up in the hospital basement, taking turns with another classmate to see just how long she’ll stay fresh when drenched in their sweat.

And even this wasn’t what turned me off. As overt as these scenes play out, there is a sense of style and taste to them. What could have really been exploitative is handled, as nearly impossible as it seems, with a bit of restraint.

And maybe that’s what bothered me the most when I first saw DEADGIRL, not the fact that our main characters have sex with a zombie, but just how fast they deem it okay to do so and how under control the whole thing comes off. We’re meant to not question the existence of the living dead, but we’re meant to gasp at how vicious the human characters are. I’m a lifelong Romero fan, and I know that suspension of disbelief is a requirement for this type of film, but there’s a limit. Characters accepting that the dead walk is one thing, but characters seeing the dead walk and then saying, “damn, I’d tap that,” is something else.
This was my problem for almost the whole first viewing of DEADGIRL. I just couldn’t accept how accepting they were. It wasn’t until quite literally the last few seconds of the film that I got it.

I know, I’m sort of slow, but it’s in the film’s final few seconds that DEADGIRL started making sense. It was making a statement about what men want from women, even if the filmmakers weren’t aware they were doing so. All of the conventions of the film could be forgiven their lack of subtlety when I realized that I was looking entirely in the wrong direction. The characters could indeed accept the situation because they had to, to make the point. Me, as that Romero fan I am, should have been more open to the undead being used as a soapbox.

So, now that I’ve watched DEADGIRL three more times, each time with friends to see if they ‘get it’ faster than I did (which they ALL seem to), do I think it’s a good movie? Yes. Do I recommend it? Yes, quite often. It’s a film which sticks with you for several viewings, and it’s the rare film that does get better with multiple viewings.

If you give it a chance.



Release Date: 2009
Director: Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel
Writer: Trent Haaga
Starring: Shiloh Fernandez, Noah Segan, Candice Accola, and Jenny Spain

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