Reviews
Deadgirl (2008) 1 brain1 brainhalf brain
(USA)

I'd heard that this movie has sparked a lot of debate, and after seeing it, I can certainly see why. The subject matter is quite disturbing, and some of the scenes and dialog may seem unnecessarily explicit. It's interesting to read reviews of this movie and see what people take from it. It seems to be one of those movies where the review says as much about the reviewer as about the movie.

Two high school friends, Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and J.T. (Noah Segan) are exploring an abandoned asylum when they come upon a naked girl (played by Jenny Spain, a role that I'm sure she never wants to reprise) chained up in the basement. Rickie wants to call the cops, and J.T. wants to take advantage of having a helpless female dropped into their laps. Rickie doesn't call the cops, but neither does he stick around. The initial loyalty between Rickie and J.T. is reminiscent of the loyalty seem among the group of friends in River's Edge, another disturbing film about peer pressure and moral emptiness. When push comes to shove, Rickie would rather let J.T. do what he wants instead of risking their friendship. J.T. discovers that the girl is undead, and continues to use her as a sex slave, telling Rickie about it. Rickie gets more and more disturbed by J.T.'s increasingly sick behavior, but for a while still does nothing other than try to convince J.T. to stop. Even when he does take action, he still tells no outsiders about what's going on.

This is a horror film in many ways. Of course there's the fact that the girl is undead, but the true horror comes from the situation, and what these boys both do and allow to happen. It's not hard to imagine that directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel were using the dead girl as a physical symbol of misogyny at its ugliest. She doesn't have any feelings to hurt, she feels no pain, you can treat her as badly as you want and she's still there for you. And this is where a lot of the rage about this movie comes from, understandably so. It could be argued that the movie is promoting this viewpoint of women simply by having it as such an integral part of the story. I don't think that was the directors' intent. In my opinion, it's obvious throughout that J.T. is considered to be in the wrong, and that his treatment of the girl, no matter what she is, is reprehensible. The very fact that this objectification of women is embodied in a zombie indicates how repulsive this objectification is.

Ironically, even though Rickie objects to J.T.'s actions, he's guilty of the same thing himself, to a lesser degree. Rickie's in love with a girl at school called JoAnn (Candice Accola), but other than having shared a kiss with her when they were 12, he barely knows her. In his mind she shares his interest, because if he's interested, why wouldn't she be as well? J.T. knows that Rickie's interest is fruitless, and he sees that as just one example of the insurmountable gap between boys like Rickie and himself (outcasts) and the girls that they're attracted to. J.T. thinks that his "relationship" with the dead girl is the most he can hope for, and that Rickie would be wise to give up on JoAnn and join him.

Having given that rather dry analysis, let me add that this is one sick film. You can't get around the fact that it shows some very ugly human behavior. On one hand I felt that the filmmakers didn't need to be as shocking as they were, but there was also a gritty reality to what their characters did. There are some twisted people in this world. I would hope that what people get from this film is how damaging this kind of misogyny can be; in my opinion that's one of the things this film is meant to be about. But this movie is definitely not for everyone. It's about as bleak and disturbing as it gets.