The Dead Girl - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Dead Girl Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 22, 2008
This is a great movie. Re watched it again, first time since it came out, so had forgotten a lot of it. It's broken up into segments which loosely tie into the final story of the "dead girl" (Brittany Murphy - fantastic. Really sad to see her, especially in this role). First up is the woman who finds the dead body, played by Toni Colette. A henpecked woman with a hinted at tragedy in the past who cares for her ill and spiteful mother in isolation.
Next is Rose Byrne, also a troubled girl, troubled by her sister's disappearance many years ago. She believes the body may belong to her sister.
Then the wife of the serial killer. This story was more chilling than the others. I wont say too much and spoil it.
Next, the mother of the "dead girl", discovering that her daughter was a hooker and drug addict, was in a lesbian relationship and had a child of her own.
Then finally, the "dead girl". This story cuts off abruptly at the point she meets the killer. Which is fine. I had no wish to see it!
Overall a very nicely done, dark story about the impact of crime on those left behind.
Super Reviewer
½ September 23, 2007
A very unusual take on the serial killer story, splitting the film into several perspectives: the person who finds the body, the victim's (supposed) sister, the psycho's wife, the victim's mother and finally the victim herself. These story do not intermix much, which makes the film feel somewhat disjointed. There are a couple of touching scenes, others leave you indifferent, because the pieces do not always create an overall image. An interesting attempt, but ultimately failing to grasp the audience's attention over the entire running time.
Super Reviewer
½ June 2, 2008
Several different, complex stories intertwine to give you a look at the death and discovery of a young girl's decomposing body in a field. A pretty good cast put together here, but the movie may be a bit too dark and dreary for some. Still, the acting was pretty good. The only disappointment here is that you don't actually see the murder take place, only allusions to it. Watchable, but that's about it.
Super Reviewer
December 27, 2009
Karen Moncrief has written and directed this terrifying, searching, agonizing, and exceptionally fine story of the responses of five different people to the discovery of a dead girl. By dividing her story into chapters named after The Stranger, The Daughter, The Mother, The Wife, The Sister, and The Dead Girl she offers us fully realized characters, each of whom is affected by the opening discovery of a mutilated young dead girl's body. The technique of non-linear film is not new, but Moncrief raises it to a new, powerful level, a fact that makes this film one of the more sophisticated and successful of the past few years.

Arden (Toni Collette) is a homely frail girl who accidentally discovers the dead girl, taking a necklace from the corpse before reporting the discovery to the police. She is a caretaker for an invalid, foul-mouthed cruel mother (Piper Laurie) who berates Arden for being so ugly and for involving them in a murder case. Arden flees, meets The Stranger Rudy (Giovanni Ribisi), a tattooed, scary appearing guy who is attracted to Arden because she appears so innocent. He courts her with tales of serial killer manners and yet eventually gains Arden's fractured self-perception trust with physical contact. The next chapter introduces Leah (Rose Byrne) who works with Derek (James Franco) in the mortuary where the dead girl's body has been deposited for autopsy. Leah discovers markings on the dead girl that convince her this is the sister who has been missing for 15 years, a fact that her parents (Mary Steenburgen and Bruce Davison) refuse to accept. Leah's tenuous hold on reality is altered by Derek's consolation and physical attention.

The Wife episode offers a view of Mary (Mary Beth Hurt) and Carl (Nick Searcy), a married couple with mutual distrust: Mary knows Carl has flings with prostitutes while Carl feels Mary is too controlling. Mary discovers a chest of torn bloody underwear in one of their business Storage Containers, connects the items with Carl in a suspicion that Carl may be related to the death of the dead girl, and burns them. In The Mother we finally meet the true mother Melora (Marcia Gay Harden) of the dead girl Kritsta (Britanny Murphy) as she traces the clues from the body to a seedy motel where she meets Rosetta (Kerry Washington), Krista's roommate and lover, only to discover that the dead Krista ran away from home to become a prostitute and drug addict in response to a childhood abuse problem with her father. Melora is informed that Krista has an illegitimate three-year-old daughter Ashley whom Krista loved and Melora seeks to care for the only remains of the dead girl - her granddaughter and her lover.

This film beams with brilliant performances: Collette, Harden, Byrne, Laurie, Hurt, Searcy, Washington, Steenburgen, Franco and Ribisi are poignant in their depiction of damaged people whose lives are altered by the Dead Girl. This is ensemble acting of the finest category. The production values are strong and the director's control of what could have been a meandering saga is firm and keeps the story from becoming sensationalized. This is yet another brilliant little film that deserves a very wide audience. Grady Harp
Super Reviewer
June 6, 2009
I totally forgot to rate this movie, but I did see it some time last year. The acting was great from everyone...definitely a must see!
Super Reviewer
June 25, 2007
Having not received many reviews or recommendations for this film, I thought it was sure to be a very average film and yet I was pleasantly surprised, it?s definitely my type of film.

Centred around all the main people effected when a dead girl is found and creatively chaptered, to enable the viewer to experience the effects and emotions felt by each individual surrounding the storyline, it was a unique style used for this type of film and with a good standard of Actors, this was a very enjoyable film.
Super Reviewer
½ January 5, 2009
While it was an interesting film there wasn't enough there to keep me from getting up and looking for snacks in the kitchen without pausing the movie.
It's a story of murder split into five parts as we look into the lives of the people the dead girl has affected with her death.
A big cast fills the roster and all of them play the parts well.
The first section had me looking at my watch but the last three were pretty good.
It's a little bit of a bummer movie though. Have a comedy handy for afterwards.
Super Reviewer
½ May 26, 2008
After the incredibly slow opening segment (which I also found to be a predictable premiss - odd, seemingly slow girl, repressed by overbearing mother, finally breaks free - Hmm, sounds like Carrie to me, only without the gore) - I was condsidering pulling the plug on this film - but I was glad I didn't.

The second piece sucked me in, and from there, it was quite a ride.
In retrospect, I realize that the first segment set the tone for the film, and while dark and dreary, sure set up the overall theme of women trapped in situations that they find difficult to escape from. The Mary Beth Hurt segment was especially telling. She knew what her husband was, and yet cannot break free from the feeling of rote that her life has become; which echos Mary Steenbergen in the previous piece, who has thrown her entire being into clinging to the hope that her missing daughter is still alive; an existence that cripples all those around her, especially her daughter, who understands the need to move on.
The acting and writing throughout seemed spot on - not a false emotion to be found anywhere. All the confusion, aimlessness and yearnings were natural and in no way seemed a contrivance to advance the story line.
Many do not like the segmented nature of this film, finding that it stunts charactor growth - but for me, I found this film to be about deep personality sketches that connected to each other in oblique and subliminal ways.
Super Reviewer
December 18, 2007
The movie simply didn't convince me as a good movie at least. It was pretty dull and lack of a climax. "The Dead Girl" is a quintet of stories about seemingly unrelated people whose lives converge around the murder of a young woman. "The Stranger" is about the woman who finds the body. "The Sister," a forensics graduate student, is torn between her mother's pressure to hold onto hope for her abducted sister's return and her longing to move forward with her own life "The Wife" is trapped in an intense hate/love relationship with her husband. A terrible discovery about his connection to the dead girl's murder forces her to confront what she though she knew about him and herself. "The Mother" searches for answers about her runaway daughter's life and is confronted with a series of revelations that change the course of her own life. "The Dead Girl" is a fireball: hyper, volatile, self-destructive and subject to hair-trigger bursts of uncontrollable rage. She also has an innocent and child-like side. She dreams about improving her life and becoming a good mother to her young daughter. These characters are linked not only by their connection to a brutal murder but also by the difficult hand that life has dealt them. The film scrutinizes their inner struggles to overcome or surrender to their misfortunes.
Super Reviewer
October 4, 2008
I have passed by this one many times, thinking it to be merely another slasher psycho thriller, a genre I despise. It is so not that. Strong performances by the actors and a tight script that allows each vignette to stand on its own make this a powerful statement about the ways in which an unrelated group of people are deeply affected and changed by the discovery of a dead girl. The cumulative impact of these people and their forever changed lives leaves the viewer with enough food for thought to set a banquet table. If there was a common thread through each of the episodes save one, it is the connections and disconnects between mothers and their daughters. Some of the characters grow, become stronger, and move on to the next chapter of their lives. Others decide to remain within the fantasy worlds they have built for themselves, even if that has become a prison. And still others deny the truth, even when it slaps them full in the face, and become enablers of the behavior that they have railed against. Some choose salvation, or at least sanctuary when it is offered, while others refuse any act of kindness out of feelings of unworthiness. Dark in both tone and lighting, a film that demands a response from the viewer. Incredibly well done.
Super Reviewer
January 19, 2008
[font=Century Gothic]"The Dead Girl" starts with Arden(Toni Collette) finding a body(Brittany Murphy) near her home where she takes care of her invalid and domineering mother(Piper Laurie) who hates all the media attention. But it also brings a different kind of attention to Arden in the person of an eccentric supermarket worker(Giovanni Ribisi).[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]"The Dead Girl" is a movie divided into five segments, each about a separate woman occupying a different corner of the same universe, starting with Arden, and continuing with Leah(Rose Byrne), Ruth(Mary Beth Hurt), Melora(Marcia Gay Harden, thankfully dialing it down a notch) and finally the title character who by the end of the film has a name - Krista. After each segment, the audience gets to know Krista a little better. [/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]Writer-director Karen Moncrieff's intent is to exlplore the role of women in society. These women are more than just victims but still incomplete, as they are still only cleaners and caretakers.(In two cases, the cleansing ritual includes fire.) They are also missing something important which could be love.[/font]
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[font=Century Gothic]"The Dead Girl" is a strong, powerful movie and a definite improvement on Moncrieff's debut film, "Blue Car." Led by Toni Collette, it is very well acted by a great cast that also includes Kerry Washington, Mary Steenburgen, Bruce Davison and Josh Brolin.[/font]
Super Reviewer
½ June 11, 2007
I have no idea why I picked this up...guess it was free at the library? Never take apart a movie and LABEL it in loses it's flavor. Add a star if you are desperate.
Super Reviewer
January 18, 2011
This film is relentlessly melodramatic; every scene is occupied by characters who scream and cry about their bleak, miserable lives. Since there is no emotional context to any of the episodes, they quickly become exhausting and repetitive. The cast is full of A-list actors, but none of them feel involved in the material. Along with the script, the acting feels strained and self-conscious. An unplesant movie with no pay-off.
Super Reviewer
½ May 7, 2007
One life ends. Six others begin. The Dead Girl is an expertly made film, cleverly broken up into five separate, but linked, chapters, which all succeed masterfully in different ways. Each features an actresses working at the very best of their ability, from Toni Collette all the way through to Brittany Murphy. The film never feels contrived or calculated like the overrated Crash, not only because the linkage is understated but because each chapter can hold up on its own - the fact that they connect to the title of the film in some way merely makes for a more satisfying experience. The Dead Girl is often very depressing, and the downbeat and quietly sad ending enforces this, but as the tag suggests, the death that encompasses the film becomes a catalyst for kick starting other characters lives, so there is also an element of hope. At only 90 minutes, The Dead Girl just about manages to tell a complete story, which is no mean feat given the various complex, dark themes explored. Karen Moncrieff's film is, given the subject manner, oddly unassuming and perhaps because of that, very successful.
Super Reviewer
December 28, 2006
Female ensemble drama is neither contrived, nor touching.
Super Reviewer
½ August 6, 2015
This movie had potential to be good, but it just wasn't.
Super Reviewer
January 30, 2009
The dead girl was the story of a blond girl's body being discovered in an strange village. The plot gave us the stories that centers around that discovery. Five short stories were set through a time line in the movie, and all of the characters in those stories had played a part in the blond girl's life, when she was alive, and after her death. Brittany Murphy played a junkie prostitute,despite her troubled past, she was still a loving mother. Unfortunately she passed away so soon, but this was one of her finest roles Great movie..
Super Reviewer
June 6, 2009
Wow..very good movie. I saw just a part of it awhile back but didn't know the name. It took me awhile to find it but it was so worth it. I am very happy with the way they ended it. (plus I didn't have a tissue handy and I would've needed one)
Super Reviewer
May 28, 2009
Wow what a film! This movie had my attention from start to finish. Flat-out memorizing performances from its cast! We get some of the cinemas most underrated actors,including the amazing Brittany Murphy,she was world class in this film. We also get Marica gay Harden,Toni Collette,Giovanni Rbisi ( a small but creepy,effective role) and James Franco. If you like movies that having intersecting characters well then you are in for a treat,rest assured.
The plot was simple but brillant for me. All the stories interwine when a young woman is found dead. Throughout the movie we find out just who this women was and some of the people who knew her in some fashion. Very interesting characters,they werent flat or boring at all which is a huge plus for me. I love character driven films and this ranks up there with the best that I have seen. Dead Girl is often creepy,the way its shot(mostly at night,the things the characters say,they way they move,everything was so damn brillant!
This movie spends about 10-15 mins on each story so you know the just of it. But that only leaves you wanting for find out more about the dead girl,how she died,who she was,etc. Never a moment when I said "come on enough already" I just kicked back and enjoyed this often creepy and intriguing film. My only complaint was that there should have been more Brittany Murphy(she plays the "dead girl") she made me want to hit the play button as soon as I got back to the main menu of my DVD player.This movie doesnt leave you,not a forgettable film by any means :)
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