Oh my God. What just happened? I’m at odds with myself about Dead Girl because of the trauma I feel even two days after watching it. Despite its really bad ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, it was a (subjectively) good horror film — that, I have to say. There are three reasons for this that I’ll talk about: (1) it had an organically ocurring plot; (2) it horrified (more like tortured) me and I was still watching; and (3) it had underlying concepts that were more horrifying than the actual story.
First, the plot made sense realistically — one thing led to another because of a character’s decision or because the circumstance can only lead to such a thing happening. The familiar premise — which is the normal situation of two mischievous senior high school kids on the lower level of the social hierarchy in school (“losers,” as they are usually labelled) hanging out — was interrupted by an unfamiliar element — which is the discovery of an un-murderable girl who was tied up in the basement of an abandoned mental hospital. The lives of best friends J.T. and Rickie change depending on the decisions they made: J.T. decides to rape the girl and Rickie decides not to. In the end, Rickie eventually succumbs to J.T.’s reasoning and turns Joanne, the girl he’s infatuated with, into another dead girl, which is what the movie was building up to.
Second, the movie was something that disgusted me, yet I stayed in the room, eyes peering from under the table, where I thought I could hide. Curiosity and desire, as Noel Carroll asserts, are emotions that come hand-in-hand with humanity. What was this woman? Why was she there? The desire to know the ending — to know more about the woman and to know if Rickie, J.T., and the rest combat the danger of their own pleasures — is what drove me to keep watching until the end. It came to a morally disappointing and haunting end, yet it nonetheless satisfied the curiosity that intensified throughout the film.
Lastly, the fear that was “activated” in me was not due to the paranormal vibe of the dead girl, but because of the inhuman nature of the human characters, especially J.T. Moral allegory was the main horror category of the film (even if there was slightly the paranormal zombie thing going on with the dead girl), because through the filmmakers’ usage of magical realism (in which the abnormality of the situation was downplayed), the focus turns from the “monster” to something else, which was the human in this case. At one point, J.T. scared me more than the girl ever did, when he became so obsessed with raping her and killing anybody who tries to ruin their so-called “relationship.” His eyes showed this evil that sent chills down my spine. Definitely, it was the horror of human nature that really twisted the film and made a stronger statement. What should you be more scared of: the monsters, ghosts, etc. that you don’t know, or the human beings that you think you know?