At Midnight: Deadgirl
TIFF '08 is off to a rocky start with rescheduled screenings, finicky projectors, and at least one pissed off Toronto Sun writer. Midnight Madness, however, continues apace after last night's ear-throbbingly awesome screening of Detroit Metal City.
Programmer Colin Geddes has been calling Wednesday night's Martyrs "one of the most controversial titles in the history of Midnight Madness," but it was this evening's Deadgirl that had the most on-the-ground buzz for its queasy, I-don't-know-if-I-want-to-see-that subject matter. Hardly surprising: the film's potentially awesome, potentially awful, definitely troubling premise concerns two teenage boys who discover the body of a dead, naked girl... and proceed to "take advantage of the situation."
The good news is that it becomes almost immediately apparent that "Deadgirl" ain't dead, so strike those necrophilia concerns out of your mind. The bad news, though, is that with Deadgirl alive and unwilling, this movie revolves around rape - lots of it, and usually (!) played for gags.
It's a vile piece of work. As with anything, the point need not be what you're using but how you're using it, meaning that if all of this had been in service of a really well-developed (if bent) coming-of-age story for the lead characters, or if the thematic underscore had skewed towards a metaphor about the truly monstrous lusts of the average American teenage male, then maybe we'd have something here.
But we don't. Deadgirl plays like amateurs playing dressup, brash up-and-comers with a terroristic ability to think up a nasty scenario, but no artistic ability to take it anywhere, even down the well-trod road of straight shock-n'-shlock. In the end, the initial qualms were justified: this flick is just gross.
Coming up at midnight: Sunday night sees the premiere of Not Quite Hollywood, a documentary about Australia's oft-overlooked exploitation craze of the 1970s and 1980s. The down-under flavour continues on Monday night with Jon Hewitt's Acolytes, an Aussie fright flick that mirrors Deadgirl when some high school kids stumble upon a corpse. (This time, the corpse is both clothed, and Canadian.) Then, on Tuesday night, comes period western horror flick The Burrowers, which I am really looking forward to - the old west is a terrific, and largely underused, goldmine for scary stories in the night.