Film Review: Deadgirl

   Deadgirl is a horror movie in which the monster at the heart is perhaps the most terrifying, and equally pitiable, creatures in modern society – the “nice guy”.

   The “nice guy” is always someone who bestows himself with this title, usually in comparison with other men and in relation to women: “all he does is treat her mean but I’d love her like she deserves because I’m a nice guy.”

   Yet, the self-professed “nice guy” usually hides passive-aggressive entitlement too – if he treats a woman “nicely”, by buying her a drink for example, he expects, and feels entitled to, something in return: “all I do is treat her nicely so why won’t she love me?”

   Deadgirl stars Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez), who falls into the “nice guy” categorisation with ease, and his friend J.T. (Noah Segan), who absolutely does not. Cutting school one day they find themselves in an abandoned psychiatric hospital where they make a startling discovery – a mute, nude woman chained to a table. J.T. suggests making this undead woman their sex slave whereas Rickie declines – he’s a “nice guy” with eyes only for Joann (Candice Accola), a schoolmate who already has a jock boyfriend. Rickie doesn’t care though – he knows that he’s a “nice guy” and if she’d only give him a chance he could love and idolise her in the way that she deserves.

   From here Deadgirl betrays its premise as a Teeth-like horror shocker to delve into gender studies and the crisis of modern masculinity. On one end of the spectrum in Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel’s film, man is represented by the repugnant J.T. and his equally pathetic friend Wheeler who see women as nothing more than objects to have sex with. At the other end is Rickie who, despite his protestations and denial, is equally shallow and despicable. Both Rickie and J.T. objectify women and both let their lust dehumanise themselves and the object of their “affections”.

   Formally, however, the film seems rather juvenile with a standard template of overused handheld cameras and a screenplay full of dialogue which would make Larry Clark blush at it’s blunt crassness. Yet, despite it’s flaws, and many will be found particularly by those with a weak stomach for violence and the grotty tone of the film, Sarmiento and Harel have created a more cerebral movie than the torture porn fare Deadgirl will inevitably get lumped together with.

   For all those who watched Weird Science without asking questions about the gender politics, Deadgirl provides the answers.

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