Deadgirl takes place primarily in the basement of a mental asylum. It features a limited cast of mostly unknown actors, while attempting to say something about the human condition. Giving away what that is would ruin film’s plot, but suffice it to say that objectification is one of the themes that is touched upon. Oh yes, and it also tries to be scary or gross for most of its duration. It’s not scary, but gross it most definitely is.
The film begins with a couple of high-school students deciding to ditch class. That’s apparently a pretty common thing to happen. We meet our two lead characters, J.T. (Noah Segan) and Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez). The former is a rebellious young man, while the latter is a reserved quiet child who is obsessed with a girl. They decide that going to the abandoned mental asylum would be a fun thing to do while skipping school. They go to the basement because you can’t be a real man if you don’t venture down there at least once in your life. Or at least, J.T. says something like that to convince Rickie that this would be in his best interests.
They find a door that is blocked off. What’s the best thing to do in this situation? Open it, of course. They do so. Inside is a room where we’ll spend a lot of our time in the film. In the room is a plastic bag on a table. But something isn’t right, there’s a body inside the bag. And it’s breathing. And it’s naked. And it’s female. Now, picture yourself in this situation for a moment. You’re in a place that’s supposed to be off-limits. You’ve discovered a naked body tied to a table, and you’ve found out that the heart of this body is still functioning. Are the police difficult to contact, or are people just morally corrupt? Take a guess which it is.
If you decided that you would use this body as a sex-slave for an indefinite amount of time, then you may very well have been one of the characters in this film. That’s what J.T. decides to do, and before long other people know about this phenomenon as well. The girl doesn’t seem to be able to die, nor does she seem to mind being used. She doesn’t scream out, anyway, so these teenagers continue using her in a way that would be classified as rape in almost all countries on earth.
This is how a lot of the film spends its time: A far-too-large number of people find out about this odd, chained-up, girl, and decide to have their way with her. Yes, it’s about as disturbing as it sounds. Throughout the film, Rickie wants to free her, or at least shows that he objects to the way other people are treating her. It makes little difference though, because he’s easily beaten up by the jocks, and wouldn’t dare double-cross his friends.
Some of the film deals with high-school dynamics. There are jocks, popular kids, stoners and, well, let’s just call them the less-popular kids. Feeling alone and isolated are things that a lot of people feel, and the film touches on these concepts. It doesn’t delve deep into it like some of the more important ideas, (the ones I can’t really speak on without potentially spoiling the ending), but they are there.
The observant will realize that I haven’t mentioned Deadgirl is any good or not. There’s a reason for this: I’m still unsure. It’s disturbing, and I felt bad while watching it, but to call it bad for this would be unfair. There are moments where it’s boring, but these moments are also when you get to rinse your eyes, (and possibly your hands), to cleanse yourself from what you just saw. A film isn’t bad because of that.
I will say, however, that the acting definitely could have used work. Granted, these characters weren’t written with much depth, but when I wanted to punch a character not for their actions, which were irredeemable, but because I couldn’t stand the poor acting, something went wrong. The only performance that was actually interesting was the “deadgirl” herself, and that may have only been because of me constantly questioning how much makeup was done to make her appear like she had been lying there for years. (Although I don’t believe a time-frame is ever mentioned in the movie — she may have only been there for a minute before the two leads find her. We don’t know).
Actually, I think some more explanation about who this person was would have been nice. How did she become this way? How long has she been here? We don’t get to find out, and it’s a shame. There are a lot of questions to come away from after a film like this, but these are easily answerable within the plot. Even allusions to the answers where you have to look hard, or interpret something would have been nice, but there isn’t anything like that to be found. You can still make things up, but without any clues, it’s a pointless exercise.
Did I like Deadgirl? Not really, no. It was too disturbing and it had actors who, for the most part, I couldn’t stand. Did I still think it was a worthwhile viewing experience? Somewhat. Some of its points are incredibly valid, and with disturbing material comes memorability. Do I ever want to watch it again? Absolutely not. Seeing it once, and only once, is an idea that I can get behind.