DeadGirl succeeds, although only barely, on the strength of it's premise alone.
The film is plagued with bad writing, pedestrian directorial decisions and barely acceptable acting. Although there are some highlights, and again a pretty intriguing concept, the co-directors Marcel Sarmiento, and Gadi Harel do very little with it, and shoot themselves in the foot, numerous times along the way.
Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and JT (Noah Segan) are two juvenile delinquents who
find a beautiful and completely naked girl chained up in the basement of an abandoned mental hospital, and then discover that she is immortal. They proceed to do what angry teenage boys are want to do with beautiful women…. They also agree to keep it secret, but eventually everything goes very, very wrong.
Sounds great doesn't it? The problem starts with Trent Hagga's script. All of the characters are fairly one note. And nearly all of the dialog fits into the following formula.
Any time a character speaks they must do at least 2 out of the following 3 things:
1) Repeat what the last character said.
2) Say someone's name.
3) say F**k
Rickie: "I'm not F**ing going to do that J.T. its crazy!"
JT: "Yes! Yes you are F**ing going to do it Rickie, because I said so!"
And so on. The style gets grating about 15 minutes into the run-time and doesn't change at all or sound authentic at all. It makes you wonder why none of actors (none of the 20-something cast looks remotely appropriate for High School age) or directors (there were two after all!) corrected this while in production. The Actors all seem to struggle with the material, but with spotty success. Segan fares the best, playing JT something like Christian Slater from Heathers mixed with a bit of Dennis Leary.
There are some neat set pieces and the team does well creating atmosphere, but the lumbering plot. But it seems like the filmmakers squander all potential inherent in their setup. The secret falls apart because they tell their buddy Wheeler (Eric Podnar) who is clearly a basket case from the first moment we see him on screen. The idea of reinventing the zombie genre falls when the film sets up the third act with no payoff (when someone is bitten by the Zombie girl they start to turn into zombies themselves, but actually just get written out of the story – so there is implied that a zombie apocalypse could be taking place but there is no evidence follow through whatsoever on the idea.
Then there is the brutality inflicted on the hapless Deadgirl, played by the stunningly gorgeous Jenny Spain. Spain gives a pretty visceral performance but she has very little to do but lie there and get brutalized and gawked at. She is almost able to counter horrifically misogynistic tone that the film presents. Almost.
The filmmakers paint a pretty gruesome portrait of the American Teen with nearly every boy falling into the role of sociopath with little to no prodding. But even so, the audience never sees anything truly gruesome (although it's implied) so even the vicarious thrill that might come from the Torture Porn aspect of the premise is lost. I don't mean to suggest, that the film has to mimic "Hostel" –but if this is the premise that they've set up – it would be nice to get past the "Woah I'm like totally F**king a Zombie Rickie!" factor of it. Almost like the filmmakers are relying on a certain cinematic shorthand, hoping that the audience will fill in all the truly sick parts. Considering the broad strokes the rest of the film is painted with – this is an odd point at which to get subtle.
I think it's telling that the most interesting scene in the film, has nothing to do with the actual premise. About half way through the film two guys completely botch a mugging/kidnapping, and the scene is hilarious and witty and encapsulates a lot of the ideas that seem to be present in the rest of the film.
I'd like to think these guys are off to bigger and better endeavors. DeadGirl certainly seems to be getting them attention. As it is, DeadGirl could be worth a rental, it's certainly full of some sick sh*t (for those so inclined). Which, for a horror film, is a certain level of success in and of itself.