Looking for something different to watch? You can't go wrong with the new anthology horror indie film, Dead Girls, now available on DVD and iTunes. Here's Matt Dean's review of the film!
Some of the best horror films in cinema history have been anthologies. Roger Corman’s Tales of Terror, Creepshow, Trick ‘r Treat and, most recently, the VHS films are just a couple of examples. Like short films, anthology entries can be so much trickier to pull off than with features. You’d think that wcouldn'tbe the case, but you have to be able to put out a believable story, make it compelling, make it fun, make it scary and make the audience finish that entry wanting more; all in the span of minutes instead of hours. This is why, for every great anthology, there are ten anthologies that are flat-out rough to sit through. Thankfully, Dead Girls, directed by Neal Fischer and Del Harvey, gets everything right.
This movie was a refreshing surprise from beginning to end. I knew absolutely nothing going into it. Well, I knew that it was a horror movie because that’s what we do here, but I didn't know it was an anthology, I didn't know if it was experimental or supernatural or a slasher film; I was completely blind – as the saying goes. Let’s talk about some of the surprises.
First, I was surprised at how amazing it looks. This low-budget (IMDb lists the budget at a mere $25,000) indie flick looks a hell of a lot better than a lot of giant-budgeted films I've seen over that last few years. And it’s not just that they have a nice camera. These guys really know how to use it. Often times during the first-viewing of something I’ll just sit back relax and try and enjoy the story before I notice little technical aspects. Numerous times during Dead Girls, though, I just sat there and thought, “Man this was shot incredibly well.” Secondly, the acting is great. Let’s be honest, with a lot of low-budget films the acting is low-budget as well (The words ‘comical’ and ‘cheesy’ come to mind). But I had no issues with almost anyone in this film.
Story-wise, there are some pretty familiar aspects, but they throw in new and inventive elements that really set it apart from other films. The “skeleton” that sets up the anthology of the film is a girl running away from a crazed killer and she retreats into a seemingly abandoned house. As she searches through the decrepit domicile, these stories begin to emerge, as do the house’s true residents. The “meat” of the film is the three chapters of the anthology: "Over My Dead Body" – a tale of a relationship gone awry, "Theta Phi’s Never Die" – a story of ‘being born’ into a sorority, and "Vengeance Is Mine" – a story about what not to do as a catholic priest. Another necessity in anthologies is that each entry be able to stand on its own, while simultaneously featuring a fabric woven from the same material as the other entries. In my opinion, Dead Girls’ fabric is made up of the struggles of women. Each entry shows a girl being wronged in some way; wronged by a male in a relationship, wronged by female peers, wronged by society, wronged by religion, wronged by modern savagery. And in almost every case, the female needs to die or kill in order to gain empowerment. This reflects the very sad, but very true societal norms in terms of the treatment of women. Throughout history, it takes the death of people to make others wake the hell up and see that there’s a problem going on. So, in death people can become exponentially more powerful - and I think that is shown in Dead Girls numerous times.
Finally, the special effects seem to be primarily digitally done, but it’s in no way overused or looks bad. A lot of the violence is done just out of view or in a dimly-lit section of the screen, but that works to its advantage. The violence that is shown seems to be done in more of a comical way – including one scene featuring a certain member of the male anatomy that is equally squirm-inducing and pretty funny.
All in all, Dead Girls is a very good film, extremely well done and shows filmmakers that should continue to excel in their fields and they’ll most definitely be on my radar in the years to come. Give it a spin!
Matt, Signing Out