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DARK SKY FILMS

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Marcel Sarmiento, Gadi Harel
Cast:
Shiloh Fernandez, Noah Segan, Michael Bowen, Candice Accola, Andrew DiPalma, Eric Podnar, Nolan Gerard Funk
Writing Credits:
Trent Haaga

Tagline:
You Never Forget Your First Time.

Synopsis:
Ditching school on a lark in favor of downing beers and raising hell at an abandoned mental hospital, two high school kids from the wrong side of the tracks make a horrifying discovery that will test their morals and serve as the catalyst for a dangerous battle of wills. Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and JT (Noah Segan) are the kind of kids more likely to be caught smoking in the boy's room than studying in the library, so when they skip out of class to explore a crumbling mental hospital it seems like just another days of mischief and mayhem. What seemed to be business as usual becomes anything but, however, when the two boys break through a rusted door leading to a dark boiler room and discover a naked woman tied to a gurney and covered in plastic. Since the door to the boiler room was rusted shut it seems unlikely that any living soul has inhabited the space for years, yet when the body shows signs of life JT immediately suggests that he and his pal should have a little lewd fun with their helpless captive. But while Rickie may be somewhat reckless, his moral compass still points in the right direction and he wants nothing to do with such sordid affairs. Later, when word of Rickie and JT's discovery gets out, tensions flare as events take a darkly disturbing turn.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 101 minutes
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 9/15/2009

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel, Composer Joseph Bauer, Editor Phillip Blackford, Director of Photography Harris Charalambous, Screenwriter Trent Haaga, and Actors Shiloh Fernandez and Noah Segan
• “Making of Deadgirl Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Makeup Still Gallery
• Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Deadgirl (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 8, 2009)

Even after all these year, PR hype can still influence me. Before I received the press release for 2009’s Deadgirl, I knew nothing of it. However, references to it as “groundbreaking” and a movie that “made headlines around the world” enticed me. Worst case scenario: I get a review out of it!

When high school students Ricky (Shiloh Fernandez) and JT (Noah Segan) skip class, they head to an abandoned hospital to drink beer and smash stuff. As they explore the building, they find a shocking discovery: a nude girl (Jenny Spain) chained to a table and covered in plastic.

Ricky wants to get help, but JT would prefer to keep her as a toy for a while. Ricky gets sidetracked from his plan to contact authorities and eventually JT lures him back to the hospital to reveal a secret: the girl can’t be killed. Again, Ricky wants to leave sleeping zombies lie, but JT thinks it’d be more fun to maintain her as a semi-feral sex object. The film follows that endeavor along with a mix of associated complications.

If nothing else, I’ll give this to Deadgirl: it’s different. We don’t get a whole lot of teen coming of age zombie sex slave tales, so it scores points for genre originality.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t earn credit for much else, as it dallies in too many categories to satisfy in any of them. I suppose the horror side of things fares best of all, especially given the strangeness of the concept. Deadgirl doesn’t focus exclusively on scares, so when they occur, they muster a decent impact.

The problem stems from the scattered nature of the story. While I don’t expect or demand that a movie stick with one genre and one genre alone, Deadgirl just doesn’t mix its sides well, especially during the first two acts. It sticks mostly with terror in the final segment, and that part satisfies the best.

Until then, though, we stuck with an odd mix of gore, sadism, cynicism… and shots of Rickie as he moons over his unrequited love for Joann (Candice Accola). It’s a strange melange, and the Rickie/Joann bits just don’t fit. Yeah, they come together a bit at the end, but they integrate poorly during much of the movie and make it awkward.

Deadgirl has problems simply because it requires too much suspension of disbelief. I can remember what it was like to be a horny 17-year-old, but somehow I think the zombie thing might freak me out enough to do something about the situation. Call the cops? Tell my parents? Write a letter to the editor? Seriously – no one seems to think it’s at all remarkable that Deadgirl is one of the undead, and that’s just too much to take.

Most of the actors do okay in their roles, at least, though Segan’s take on JT feels extremely derivative. He does Christian Slater ala Heathers, which means he plays an impression of an actor already imitating Nicholson. Perhaps this was executive producer Christopher Webster’s idea, as he had the same job on Heathers. Whatever the case, Segan’s impression of an imitation is a distraction.

Deadgirl never goes so far off-kilter that it totally loses us, but it just seems too goofy to really succeed. Its tonal shifts and inconsistencies add up to a movie with big ambitions that can’t live up to its aspirations.


The DVD Grades: Picture C/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Deadgirl appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While not bad, the transfer usually looked pretty average.

Sharpness was up and down, as the movie exhibited inconsistent levels of clarity. Overall, close-ups boasted good definition but wider shots suffered from mild to moderate softness. Some light edge enhancement didn’t help, and artifacts made the image a bit messy at times. Mild instances of jagged edges gave the movie a ropey look on occasion, but shimmering wasn’t an issue, and source flaws remained absent.

Colors weren’t much of a concern in this fairly monochromatic affair. Given the nature of the story, I didn’t expect dynamic hues, and the film tended toward a subdued sepia look much of the time. What colors we found seemed decent but unexceptional. Blacks tended to appear somewhat loose and inky, though, and shadows were often too dark. That was an issue given the fact that so much of the film took place in low-light interiors. All in all, there was enough positive material on display for a “C”, but it wasn’t an inspiring presentation.

Though not especially ambitious, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Deadgirl seemed more satisfactory. Like many horror movies, it mostly went with creepy atmosphere. A few action/scare sequences brought the track to life in a more active manner, but these were infrequent. Instead, the mix usually focused on general environment, and that side of things worked well. The audio used the speakers in a natural manner that created a good soundscape.

Music also featured nice stereo imaging, and the surrounds contributed to the ambience. The back channels didn’t have a lot to do, but that added to the film’s aura. The whole package connected together in a reasonably involving manner.

Audio quality was positive. Music showed nice range and clarity, while effects offered good accuracy and punch. The smattering of loud scenes showed solid definition, and they lacked distortion. Speech was also concise and natural. Nothing here dazzled, but it achieved its modest goals.

When we head to the disc’s extras, we start with an audio commentary from directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel, composer Joseph Bauer, editor Phillip Blackford, director of photography Harris Charalambous, screenwriter Trent Haaga, and actors Shiloh Fernandez and Noah Segan. The track takes at least two separate running, screen-specific chats and combines them. The participants discuss sets and locations, score, audio and editing, production design and cinematography, thematic/tonal elements, cast and performances, various effects, story/script/character subjects, and reactions to the film.

My only complaints relate to the construction of the commentary. Combining the two – or more – separate tracks into one makes things a bit busy at times, and it can be tough to differentiate one participant from another; most of the guys sound a fair amount alike, so it’s easy to forget who’s speaking.

Despite those minor criticisms, this ends up as a pretty terrific chat. It covers all the expected bases and does so in an honest, often amusing manner. The guys don’t seem to hold back, and we learn a ton about the film. It turns into a very enjoyable discussion.

Next comes a seven-minute, 16-second Making of Deadgirl featurette. It presents notes from Sarmiento, Harel, Haaga, Segan, Fernandez, and actors Candice Accola and Andrew DiPalma. It tells us how the directors came onto the project, story and characters. A few minor insights about the film appear here, but don’t expect a lot from it. This feels more like a promotional piece than something that really educates us about the production.

Five Deleted Scenes run a total of seven minutes, 27 seconds. These include “Lost in the Asylum”, “Sidewalk Fight”, “The Burden”, “Dumping Dwyer”, and “The Easter Egg”. Most of these tend to be pretty redundant and don’t offer anything that would’ve be new or insightful. “Dwyer” is probably the most interesting of the bunch, but it still wouldn’t have contributed anything much. Text notes introduce each scene and tell us why the filmmakers cut them.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a Makeup Stills Gallery. This includes 21 shots of those effects along with text comments from special makeup effects artist & designer Jim Ojala. We get a pretty good look at the various makeup work from the film and even get to check out actress Jenny Spain pre-“deadgirl” decomposition. It’s a surprisingly interesting collection of shots, and Ojala’s notes add to the usefulness of the set.

As a genre change of pace, Deadgirl scores some points, but its execution comes with too many pitfalls for it to become a success. The film jumps from one tone to another in a clumsy manner that makes it falter. The DVD offers mediocre picture, good audio, and a smattering of supplements highlighted by an insightful commentary. While not a bad flick, Deadgirl fails to achieve its goals.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.3076 Stars Number of Votes: 13
55:
34:
0 3:
12:
41:
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main