Word is that "Deadgirl" is the hottest indie horror flick of the year. It's said by some to be one of the smartest and most original American thrillers in recent memory. So, when I heard that the extended trailer had been leaked to the Web, I eagerly took a peek and found that the ingenious concept being heaped with so much praise was ... zombie rape. As in, two high school losers find a naked girl zombie chained to a table in the basement of a deserted mental institution and decide to rape her repeatedly, mutilate her body and pimp her out as a sex slave. I guess the five-film "Saw" epic and two "Hostel" installments weren't enough to satisfy the demand for torture porn?
As much as I'm inclined to rant about the sickness and depravity of this stuff, I'm not sure I can write off this film outright. Horror films have always toyed with arousal and fear, those two easily confused feelings. Increasingly, porn is following the same formula -- just consider the viral genre-merger of 2 Girls, 1 Cup. The goal in both porn and horror flicks is often to elicit an extreme, adrenaline response and force us to confront our baser, animal selves. Based on online reviews, that is very much part of the movie's story line.
Broadsheet contributor Mary Elizabeth Williams e-mailed me to say that she's seen the movie and thinks it "says something at times powerful about masculinity." As she put it, "The boys are picked on, they're the bottom of the food chain. They have no future or power. So you get why they're drawn to this literally underground world where they're in control. It's very much about anger and helplessness, and taking it out on someone even more helpless" -- until she escapes and eats their braaains -- "and it's really not far off from stuff that does happen."
Obviously, there's no use drawing conclusions about the relative merit of the movie's rape scenes without seeing the movie. (Also, we're talking about fictional zombie rape -- presumably, no zombies were harmed in the making of the movie.) I will say, though, that it's tough to imagine a movie of this sort managing or even wanting to transcend its genre. I mean, c'mon, the movie's poster features an extreme close-up of a pair of slightly parted gray lips -- in vertical, no less -- with a hint of luscious pink just inside. That isn't scathing cultural commentary, that's getting off on the deep dark depths of the human mind. From the sounds of it, the film's ending only reinforces the impression given throughout the movie that we're all (or at least men are) sadistic pervs at heart, and that resisting immoral impulses is ultimately futile.
But, hey, if you're thirsty for a heady cocktail of repulsion and titillation, sounds like you're in luck.