Friday, February 11, 2011

Women in Horror: Deadgirl

Misfits Rickie and JT decide to skip school and drink beer in an abandoned insane asylum. After taking out their teen angst on the place, they incur the wrath of a guard dog. They narrowly escape it deep in the bowels of the building and find a room that's been sealed for a long time. In that room, they find something that will change their lives forever: a dead girl tied to a gurney and wrapped in plastic. They soon find out that she is alive, but extremely savage and seemingly immortal. JT wants to take advantage of having a nude, helpless female lying around, while Rickie feels quite the opposite. When word gets around and more people get involved, Rickie and JT embark in a power struggle that spins out of control and leads to an unexpected and dark resolution. 

I just want to start by saying this is a very polarizing film: you'll either love it or despise it. The film as a whole is hard to watch because of the nonchalance the characters have with their own horrific actions. It's really chilling how calmly JT describes how he raped, beat, and attempted to kill the woman multiple times. He seems to think that it's ok because he sees her as being less than an animal. Zombies are usually the monsters in works of fiction, but in this case, it's the teenage boys that are infinitely more monstrous. Human nature can be an ugly and savage thing when out of the gaze of society. 

These boys have discovered a world where they are the supreme rulers. They don't have to follow the rules or accept that they are pathetic losers who will contribute nothing to the real world. In this world, they always get the girl and call the shots. It's the ultimate fantasy for them. Their world is completely removed from reality, in a dark, dank basement that is the polar opposite of reality in almost every way. I hate the characters. They are pathetic excuses for human beings, but I can see where they come from: a place where no one cares what happens to them and where they have no future. It's a great character piece where I don't agree at all with them and I think they are horrible and stupid, but understand them just the same. That's the mark of great story telling. 

Rickie is the only male character with any sort of promise. The others are satisfied to get sexual gratification from a mute, unaware woman than have a real, healthy, consensual relationship. Rickie still isn't completely innocent because he knows that what his friends are doing is wrong, but he hesitates to do something about it. He seems to be torn between resigning himself to the emotionless situation with the dead girl or attempting to make a real human connection with a living, breathing classmate. This film is kind of a sick and twisted coming of age story. 

The woman being used and raped in this film is a zombie. This fact doesn't make her any less of a victim. Society in general objectifies women in the advertising and the media all the time. Women are frequently equated to objects or animals and shown as inherently inferior to men. Sometimes I find myself desensitized against such advertising because it's so pervasive and we as a society see literally thousands of advertisements each day. This general environment can make it easy for some to internalize this sexist thinking and go even further to say that anything can justifiably be done to them. The woman’s rapists distance themselves from her by thinking of her as less than them, less than human. This film holds up a mirror to our society and makes us see the ugliness within it. 

Deadgirl is a powerful and uncomfortable film to watch. It's well produced, written, and acted. Jean Spain gives a wonderful performance as the Deadgirl and manages to make her both sympathetic and dangerous without even speaking. A lot of you probably wouldn't like this movie, but if you like dark films that deal with the horror within humanity then this is probably the movie for you.
My rating: 8/10 fishmuffins
Here's the trailer for Deadgirl:


Misty said...

Hmm, this sounds really interesting! I hadn't heard of it before, but I think I might have to look into it.

Elizabeth Twist said...

"These boys have discovered a world where they are the supreme rulers. They don’t have to follow the rules or accept that they are pathetic losers who will contribute nothing to the real world."

Sounds a lot like life...

This is a great review. I can see why you're recommending the film, and I appreciate your cautions. I will definitely check it out.