Toronto Review: Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel's Deadgirl
by Alex Billington
September 14, 2008
Fucked up. There's no easy way to describe Deadgirl, but that's the first thing I thought when I walked out of the theater. The concept is so ridiculous, that I was actually a bit nervous going in. But remarkably it's a great cult horror film that boasts good performances and an off-the-wall story that few cinephiles might enjoy. Deadgirl is about two high school kids who find a dead girl in the basement of an abandon insane asylum and realize that she's not actually dead. After realizing that she can't be killed and isn't really "alive" enough to escape, they turn her into their sex slave. Yep, it's that crazy, but as I mentioned, it's not actually a bad film, which says a lot about the talents of co-directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel.
Watching the story unfold in Deadgirl is part of the thrill, so I'm not going to try and explain any more of it. One of the reasons that it's compelling to watch is that the story is so unique and unexpected, that it was actually quite refreshing, especially considering the horror genre is in need of vastly original ideas like this. Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and JT (Noah Segan) are two typical high school kids and best friends, but as the film progresses, we find out that they couldn't be more different. Both Fernandez and Segan do a great job, so their acting isn't in question, instead it's the situations that they're put in. The film loses its steam when everything is pushed over-the-top and starts to tumble out of control.
Deadgirl deserves plenty of praise for being both "fucked up" and "pretty good" at the same time. There isn't enough gore to compare this to Saw and there isn't enough sex (thankfully) to compare it to anything like Species, which is all actually a good thing. The result is something genuinely original that no one would expect to see, but is at the same time a very impressive horror flick from both Sarmiento and Harel. Stay far away if you can't even fathom the concept to begin with, but if you enjoyed the cult horror film Teeth from last year, Deadgirl is as much of a minor cult classic as that, if not even more. Just be prepared to walk out of the theater with only one poignant thought on your mind: that was fucked up!
Toronto Rating: 7.5 out of 10