The Dead Girl – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director

Karen Moncrieff

Cast

Toni Collette ………. Arden
Bruce Davison ………. Leah’s Father
Marci Gay Harden ………. Melora
Mary Beth Hurt ………. Ruth
Piper Laurie ………. Arden’s Mother
Brittany Murphy ………. Krista
Giovanni Ribisi ………. Rudy
James Franco ………. Derek
Kerry Washington ………. Rosetta

DVD Release Date: May 15, 2007
Rating: R
Running Time: 83 Minutes

The Movie

The Dead Girl is a film with a premise that has been seen before, but still pulls it off nicely. The film is made up of five segments taking different people that have no connection with each other except for one small detail. At some time or another they were all connected with a dead girl found out in a field.

“The Stranger” shows a quick look inside the life of Arden. Arden is a woman who lives with her very controlling mother and doesn�t really have anything going for them. They live out in the sticks and she takes care of her elderly mother who constantly berates and belittles her. One day while walking out through the fields, Arden happens across the mangled body of a girl and she calls the police. Now with her face all over the news, Arden attracts the attention of a roughneck from the grocery store and is no longer ready to be ridiculed by her mother.

The second segment, which was by far the best, is entitled “The Sister” and also looks inside the troubled life of a young woman. Leah is beautiful and seemingly very intelligent, but she is incredibly depressed. Her sister has been missing for fifteen long years yet her parents refuse to give up hope and are constantly trying to find her everyday. Needless to say this makes Leah feel like the missing child since she is still around but forgotten. When the dead girl shows up in the morgue she works at though, things begin to look up for her because signs point it being her long lost sister. Her ordeal of neglect may finally be over.

Next comes “The Wife” which shows another woman suffering from neglect, but this stems from her husband. He goes out all the time and never seems to give a damn if she would like to do anything or that she doesn’t approve his escapades. She begins to suspect even more horrible things though when she finds items in a storage unit leading her to believe that her husband may have something to do with a rash of murders.

“The Mother” takes a grief-stricken mother named Melora who has learned that the dead girl is her daughter. They have not seen each other since the girl ran away some many years ago, but it doesn’t make her death any easier to take. Wanting to at least learn a little bit about her daughter, whose name we now learn to be Krista, Melora heads off to Krista’s last known address. It is there that she meets Krista’s best friend and begins to find out exactly what kind of tragic and deadbeat life her daughter actually led. And even though the damning evidence shows her daughter to be a nobody; there are new revelations that reveal a lot more about Krista and the ambitions she had.

Finally Krista is introduced formally in the last segment, “The Dead Girl.” As rough around the edges as she may have been, Krista was a girl that wanted to do more with herself and had a really big heart. We learn that not only did she truly care for those that needed it, but she ended up becoming exactly what she was trying to prevent happening to others. That was becoming a victim.

The Dead Girl is a film that takes about some of the style of Memento and mixes it with an overall feeling which is that of Crash or 11:14. Through some odd circumstance, many people were connected even if they were never drawn together personally. As horrible as the instance happened to be; it still ended up changing each of their lives and mostly for the better except for that of course of Krista.

It really is a very good film and tells a nice story that intertwines all the segments together seamlessly. The problem is that I never quite got the same emotional feeling from it that 11:14 or Crash gave. In those films you were drawn into the characters and actually were connected to them. As things would happen, you’d feel remorse or happiness depending on what the situation ended up being. In The Dead Girl, there is a feel good story mixed in with all the tragedy, but the emotional bond to the characters just was never there. Unlike the other two films, this one didn’t end and have me running through fifty thoughts of “what if?” in my mind. It simply ended.

The Video

The film is shown in 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and looks fantastic. The film is mostly in dark and shadows but they are pulled off nicely and look black where they are supposed to and not purple. The colors, when they are there, are bright and vibrant giving a nice view of both extremes.

The Audio

The film is heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and also sounds good. There is not much to go on besides dialogue as there isn’t much of a musical score and it’s not very action driven so don’t expect explosions or anything like that. But the dialogue can be heard very well and at a good level so when there is some music, it doesn’t deafen you.

Special Features

Audio Commentary – Director Karen Moncrieff gives a very insightful commentary for her film that gives some good information on deeper meanings in some scenes and how it was to work with some of the actors. The problem is the same though as with most one-person commentaries; they get boring after a while. Hearing someone talk to themselves for almost ninety minutes gets dull, even if the information being given is great. Some form of interaction is almost begged for.

Interviews – Nine interviews in all with the stars from The Dead Girl. Each actor gives a brief description of their character and then answers a question or two about the film. None of them are very long at all and it would have been better had the actual questions they were asked been known instead of just having a black screen in between each one.

Trailer

TrailersKovak Box, The Breed, and Disappeared

The Inside Pulse

An interesting film to say the least that tried hard to accomplish something that sadly was done better already. I say sadly because The Dead Girl adds a new twist to a style you may have already seen, but the filmmakers just didn’t pull it off with as much enthusiasm and “oommphh” as we’ve seen before. The special features aren’t much to write home about, but still add a little bit of insight into some aspects maybe missed while viewing the film. Very much worth a rental at least, but if you’re looking for the same idea done on a larger and more intense scale, then check out one of the other three films I mentioned above.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for The Dead Girl
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

7
THE VIDEO

8
THE AUDIO

8
THE EXTRAS

4
REPLAY VALUE

5
OVERALL
7
(NOT AN AVERAGE)