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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Dead Girl


Starring: Toni Collette, Brittany Murphy, Marcia Gay Harden and Rose Byrne
Entertainment in Video
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 22 September 2008

A woman controlled by her nasty and domineering mother discovers a dead body on land near their property. She reports it to the police, but her mother is furious at the attention it brings them from the people in town. After a violent argument the woman packs her bags and leaves the house. She meets a man who is not only interested in her, but seems to have a more than keen interest in what turns out to be murder. She shows him the necklace she has taken from the body. A forensics graduate is convinced that the body is that of her sister, missing for fifteen years. A long-suffering woman finds women's clothing and belongings in her husband's storage units. They relate to the previous victims of a serial killer. The mother of the dead girl attempts to trace her movements up to her death. It is not a happy tale, but she discovers something which will change her life forever...

The format of this film borrows from Ju-on: The Grudge, in that rather than a standard linear time-line, the story is split-up into segments which carry the point of views of different characters. In this case, it starts with the woman who finds the body and how her life is immediately changed, and then deals with the consequences of the death - how it affects the lives of the people around the victim.

This is all very well and good, but I think it would have made better sense to keep all segments pre- or post-death, instead of having only one following events leading up to the death - and then not showing it! The segment about the killer and his wife actually precedes the concluding part, thereby removing the possibility of tension or revelation at the end.

It's easy to say this in hindsight, but I'm certain it would have been much more effective to show the victim chapter up to the point where she accepts a lift from an unknown driver, then cut to the wife of the killer piece, before returning to the reveal of the victim's driver.

This to me is sloppy editing. There is nothing as such wrong with the direction, but the fact that it's also written by director Karen Moncrieff means there's no excuse for slack pacing. There was an obvious decision here to create an arthouse-type movie, as opposed to a pure entertainment piece; something you might see in selective cinemas such as the Trocadero in London's Piccadilly Circus.

The Dead Girl leaves a niggling question in my mind: If the killer removes all personal possessions from his victims, why does he not remove the 'Taken' necklace from this latest one? And, consequentially, why isn't more made of the fact that the woman who discovers the body keeps it herself? That could have had interesting repercussions, particularly when the woman's boyfriend has seen and handled it.

As it is, this is a standard murder story split into four parts, which doesn't necessarily make it any more interesting.


Ty Power

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