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A common complaint about horror movies these days is that atmosphere has been widely sacrificed for a predictable slasher structure (pick off a handsome group of teenagers one by one) that prizes shock and gore over pace and texture. But sometimes there’s such a thing as too much atmosphere—a more forgivable problem, perhaps, but still one for which a film like Deadgirl pays dearly.

As directed by Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel and written by schlock horror actor and scribe Trent Haaga (debut screenplay credit: the fourth Toxic Avenger film), Deadgirl merges urban legend creepiness with “state of our youth” cynicism. Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez) and J.T. (Noah Segan), two high-school slackers from broken homes somewhere out in the sticks, skip school to trash and explore a local abandoned insane asylum drenched in David Fincher darkness and filth. Down in the tunnels Rickie and J.T. discover the still moving (if barely) naked body of a young woman (Jenny Spain) strapped to a table underneath a transparent sheet. J.T. decides to use the girl—speechless, fanged, and gnashing in a state of feral restlessness—for his sexual fulfillment, leading to a rupture in the friends’ relationship when Rickie scrupulously voices his misgivings over such vile treatment. And soon J.T. lets Rickie in on something odd about the nameless girl: she won’t die, as three ineffective bullets to her abdomen quickly prove (ever the gentleman, J.T. initially finds this out when he unsuccessfully breaks her neck during a struggle.) Chaining up the undead “deadgirl,” J.T. becomes the unofficial owner of the body, using it to his heart’s content and even allowing idiotic stoner Wheeler (Eric Podnar) in on the action. Click here to read the rest of Michael Joshua Rowin’s review of Deadgirl.

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