As of the time of this writing, the most recent poll posted on this site asks “Can zombies be sexy?” and it seems synchronistically appropriate that it should be sitting there, asking its slightly unsettling question to site visitors, as I review Deadgirl, a movie about a group of high-school losers and their zombie sex slave.
Yes, you read that right. High school losers, zombie sex slave.
Technically, this is a a bit of a spoiler, but in this case I can’t in good conscience steer anyone this movie’s way without a bit of a warning. Besides, the movie’s promos reveal as much, so it’s not like I am breaking new ground here.
Deadgirl is the story of friends JT and Rickie’s discovery of a dirty, but still beautiful, girl chained naked in the basement of an abandoned mental hospital. JT instantly starts thinking about what they can do to her, while Rickie thinks of ways to free or rescue her without getting in trouble, setting up a dynamic that carries through the whole film. From there, plot complications in the form of bullies, buddies, and out-of-reach dream girls enter the picture — although, strangely, the cops or school authorities never do, even once the body count begins to mount. JT and Wheeler, another loser buddy, happily use the zombie girl as a sex toy while Rickie is utterly, uselessly emo about the whole thing — he does little more than agonize about it. Meanwhile, the deadgirl acts like any zombie would, trying its best to bite the living shit out of anyone that comes near, but held down by restraints (kinky!). The bullies lead to the showdown at the climax and, predictably, the unattainable dream-girl plays a major role, too.
The movie seemed to be trying to walk a thin line between cerebral chiller and gory exploitation. Unfortunately, it failed, as those disparate elements worked to drain each other of any urgency. It wasn’t ridiculous enough to be effective exploitation; it wasn’t clever enough to be a cerebral exploration of teenage pathos. As a result, it was something of a mess. It seemed to be trying to evoke a dynamic similar to River’s Edge, the chilling, true-life story of a small-town murder and the bonds of loyalty that kept it from being reported, but it missed. Where that movie portrayed the strange, ineffable bonds between small-town dead-enders in such a way that you not only believed them, but empathized to the point where you almost understand how someone could look the other way when their buddy killed, this film leaves you wondering why any of these people would speak to each other in the first place.
Just as bad, the film just goes too far in several scenes that add nothing to the plot. In other scenes, which do add to the plot, its choice of the most predictable path drains it of momentum. No one is likable, or even particularly sympathetic, although the leads Shiloh Fernandez as Rickie and, especially,Â Noah Segan as JT, are capable actors who deliver what they are asked. The problem seems to lie with the direction and, to a slightly lesser degree, the script, which go too far at the wrong moments and fail to build realistic relationships between the characters that would justify their actions.
I really wanted to like this and, for almost half of it, was inclined to do so, but by the end it had lost me completely. Part of this was the aforementioned issues; part of it was the utter lack of realistic consequences for anything that happens in the second half of the movie (basically, no one seems to notice when people start going missing, among other things…). In the end,Â when the credits rolled, I was simply glad it was over.
Note: Technically, the nudity in this is not gratuitous, but integral to the plot, but the whole thing os sort of gratuitous so I tagged it with gratuitous nudity.