Like I’m sure many of you Fellow Fans are, I’m one o’ those that’s a fan of anthology films. Trick ‘r Treat, Campfire Tales, V/H/S; even oldies but goodies like the original Amicus productions of Tales From The Crypt and Vault Of Horror; I simply love ’em. It’s like getting several horror flicks in one; three or four good short films (which you all know I enjoy if they’re done well) and hopefully, a nice wraparound to tie them all together, sometimes with a delicious touch of irony.
I recently sat down to watch Dead Girls, a soon-to-be released little flick from Rough Cut Films outta Chicago. Going in, I knew that it was an anthology movie, but not really much else; being a fan of the format, my hopes ran on the high side, and I looked forward to the experience.
We come into the flick in the midst of the action; a young woman is running like hell from a brutish, definitely pissed-off looking guy. The one time he catches her, she scratches him across the face in desperation to get away, and his reaction lets us know quickly that this is no simple little lover’s spat; no indeed, we’re left pretty damned sure that he intends to do some damage to our just-met heroine. She’s able to make her way to a spooky-looking house out in the middle of nowhere, and quickly gets inside for some relative safety from her pursuer. She rifles around, looking for food or perhaps a weapon, and instead finds strange objects (old, burnt drawings, a strange journal) that begin to inspire images in her mind; it’s these images that are the tales we are privy to: A jilted girlfriend and her royal piece o’ shit ex find closure to their rocky relationship in a way that you won’t read about in a teen romance novel…a sorority pledge is subjected to a hazing ritual that ends horrifically; fortunately, her BFF has a means to rectify the situation….and finally, another young woman suffers terrible tragedy in her youth, and grows in a direction that fate had never intended, but she discovers that fate can be made right…when she takes it into her own hands. Around these tales we witness our heroine in the spooky house finding an odd ally (who shows up in other places in these tales as well), and when that mean guy finally catches up to her…well, let’s just say that, through her unnamed new friend, she finds the strength to stand up to her tormentor.
The film ends on a note of beginning; a new era, if you will, in a scene that Gloria Steinem could have come up with back in the early seventies (with a little help from George Romero and Anton LaVey, perhaps).
If I’m to be honest, I have to say that I was a bit worried in the first third of the film; the camera work was nice and the acting was decent, but the budget constraints showed through. Now that’s not something that typically bothers me on a indie flick, but in this case the first chapter was kinda slow-moving and nothing I hadn’t really seen before, and thus without distraction shortcomings were more noticeable. However, patience pays off in this one; as the movie gained steam, I got much more drawn in. The second chapter, while still not the most original, nonetheless had that little grab that held my interest. The acting in this one was pretty damned good, and the special effects kicked up a notch (nauseatingly to those of us of the masculine persuasion; more on that in a bit), piquing my interest for the third chapter, traditionally the best in most anthology movies. This case, at least to my eyes, was no exception; the third tale of a young woman torn from her faith in a horrifying manner, struggling with herself and her past, finding redemption in vengeance, was definitely the best written and acted tale of the three (with yet another, perhaps even more cringe-worthy scene for us guys; you’re warned, fellas). The wraparound was a bit confusing, elements simply popping in without any kind of explanation, but in the final summation it wasn’t hard to put two and two together; even if there wasn’t a literal answer, the gist of what was played out was pretty apparent. It also didn’t hurt that the closing narration, the voice of the “other”, was fan favorite Lynn Lowry, providing a touch of old-school horror-cred.
I enjoyed this one, peeps; it was a slow-starter, but it rewarded me with some scenes and concepts that stuck with me. Of course, I can’t finish this review without making some mention of the strong themes of feminism and revenge that are the undercurrent of the whole film; I don’t mean that to say you have to be a feminist to enjoy it, nor that it rams it down your throat; I’m just letting you know that there’s some real girl-empowerment going on here, and I for one was rooting for them all the way.
Unless you’re a card-carrying male chauvinist (and I pity you if you are) or just in general don’t care for low-budget indie outings, I’d say check this one out; it’s essentially Mean Girls meets I Spit On Your Grave meets Creepshow…it’s what the Lifetime Network would be if it were run by the Crypt Keeper…what’s the worst that could happen? 🙂
For me, it’s another anthology to add to the collection!
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