Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel’s feature directorial debut, Deadgirl, is a coming of age story like no other. To describe it as a mix of Stand By Me and Night of the Living Dead would not be wholly inaccurate, but it would be a bit of a disservice to the originality on display.
The film centers on two high school friends who cut class to go drink in an abandoned building only to stumble on a chained and naked woman who, they find out, cannot be killed. The plot revolves around the ideological split between the two friends. The quieter of the two, Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez), wants to do the right thing and tell someone about the girl and the other, JT (Noah Segan) wants to keep the girl for sex. Add to this a meddling third friend, a love interest for Rickie, and a couple of jock bullies and you have an exciting film that’s heavy on social and sexual commentary, but never too heavy.
Far too often horror films that choose to purposely imbue feminist readings and other allegorical flourishes into their narrative fall flat, but Deadgirl will incite debate and thought without having to sacrifice any power as a story that can be taken at face value.
The film is written by Troma alum Trent Haaga and for all its ingenuity the script also proves to be one of its few shortcomings: characters act in inexplicable ways, the action drags in places, and the dialogue could use some work. None of these are major flaws and once the film gets to its action-loaded final act they all but disappear.
Dark Sky Films, an outfit known mostly for their great re-issues of older films (some highlights include Simon, King Of the Witches, Werewolves on Wheels, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) deserves a thumbs up for acquiring and releasing the film. I do feel that the bonus materials could have used a little beefing up (the only “making of” material is a short EPK and a commentary) but for such a modestly budgeted effort like this it’s great we have any material at all.