Seattle International Film Festival Review: Deadgirl

June is a busy month for families.  Graduations, end-of-the-school year parties, summer camp registration, the end of spring sports and tryouts for fall sports, Father’s Day, yet I try hard to make time for….The Seattle International Film Festival.  I’ve seen 5 movies so far and last night’s screening of Deadgirl is my favorite.  I attended the movie with my nephew Josh and my daughter Miranda.  All of us like the horror genre and the Deadgirl storyline sounded creepy: 

Rickie and JT are high school outsiders, bullied by jocks and despised by the in-crowd. Though both would rather drop out than bear this never-ending misery, Rickie chooses to stay, if only to catch fleeting glimpses of JoAnn, his childhood crush and the current girlfriend to the captain of the football team. Then one afternoon, while cutting class, the pair makes a bizarre discovery in the darkest depths of an abandoned hospital—a beautiful young woman, neither living nor dead. 

It would be easy to dismiss this film as exploitative but there’s way more going on beneath the surface. On the one hand, it might seem as though Rickie and JT are holding opposing moral positions and the directors use this as dynamic tension to move the film forward. But  the way I see it, Rickie and JT actually want the same thing. The movie reminds me of another dark teen film, “Heathers.” Miranda says “Christian Slater’s character DOES everything Winona Ryder’s character wants to do.”

Director/Producers Gadi Harel and Marcel Sarmiento were there for the screening and took questions and answers afterwards.  One of the movies that inspired Gadi and Marcel was “Stand by Me” based on the short story “The Body” by Stephen King.  The Body was required reading during one of my psych grad school classes because it helped students understand the importance of developmental milestones.  Rickie and JT are older than the kids from The Body and their curiosity about life and death goes down a more gruesome path.

Miranda asked about the significance of a certain shot containing a small flower that surely was meant to convey symbolism.  Marcel was glad someone finally asked about that scene but refused to give away the meaning to the audience. Instead, he took her aside after the Q&A and whispered the meaning to her, and extracted a vow of secrecy. The rest of us will have to wait until the DVD release! 

One of the questions was, “How did you obtain financing for such a creepy story?”  Gadi and Marcel said that during the real estate bubble-run up, there was money available from people who had made plenty in real estate and those folks were the seed investors.  Interesting.  Times are different today. 

Deadgirl will play again tonight at midnight at the Egyptian and again on June 5th, 9:30PM at the Kirkland Performing Arts Center.