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This dark thriller boasts a fresh approach, but it can still get bogged down by its heavy subject matter.
All Critics (81)
| Top Critics (23)
| Fresh (61)
| Rotten (20)
| DVD (5)
Karen Moncrieff's previous film, the shallow and pretentious Blue Car, in no way prepares you for this superbly acted, emotionally acute picture.
Those who pass on The Dead Girl are missing something. Moncrieff has assembled a remarkable (and mostly female) cast, and there are moments in this film that are as powerful as anything currently in theaters.
Moncrieff never gets melodramatic with subject matter that easily could have been; she won't make you feel good, but she will make you feel.
All Screams aside, movies about serial killing are rarely chipper affairs. But few are as glum as The Dead Girl.
Murphy, devouring a bad girl role to go with her image, makes her the most alive person in what is most certainly not your typical Hollywood serial killer movie.
It must be said that The Dead Girl is a film of considerable integrity. But before that, something else must be said: That's about as unappetizing an opening to a film as can be imagined.
There's not a laugh to be had, but the humanist Moncrieff is grabbing for your heart, rarely showing violence but letting the potential of it seep in from every corner, making fear itself the uncredited star.
A dreary Chick Flick serial killer film, that puts a human face on the vic as it focuses on all the women affected by the serial killer.
The tone is fittingly dark, the writing impressively poetic, and the performances excellent absolutely across the board.
The masterful film, which was also released on DVD this week, sends shivers up your spine and devastates you five times over, then has you longing to wipe the sweat off your brow and start watching all over again.
The Dead Girl segues from one turgidly-paced, soul-crushing sequence to another with very little reason to continue watching.
Intriguing and unpredictable, this multi-layered film delivers a profound ripple effect as it explores the complexities of anger, grief, denial and retribution
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.
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.
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.
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
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