“Dead Girls (2014)” is a recent horror anthology that shows audiences a twisted look at girl power. For me, the key to any great revenge horror piece is building a connection between the audience and the victim. This film achieves this, but there still remain those few missteps which prevent the film from truly becoming part of my viewing rotation this holiday season.
“Dead Girls” is directed by Neal Fisher and Del Harvey (who wrote segments of the story). The writing was predictable at times, but watchable. You can find many expected horror tropes in this film, like cheesy puns, poor decisions by characters, and sexual innuendos. Perhaps meant as nods to the genre, some of them ultimately produced eye-rolling and moans. That said, I still felt there are still genuine moments of dark humor and creativity, especially in the second story “Theta Phi’s Never Die”.
This film contains three main stories: “Over My Dead Body”, “Theta Phi’s Never Die”, and “Vengeance is Mine” with a container story aptly called, “Wraparound”. This container story stars Jessica Galang as Alice, a runaway escaping a victimizer played by Joseph Luis Caballero. Alice finds herself in a farm house with a book that is used to introduce or tie the other stories of this film together.
The first of these stories is “Over my Dead Body”. In this segment, Suzy (played by Aubrey Jayce Tunnell) finds out that her man Travis has been fooling around with Cassie. In retaliation, she gets a tattoo placed on her back. Later that evening, Travis accidentally kills Suzy. He and his friend Jake are forced to dump her body inside a refrigerator in some “dumping ground”. Empowered by her tattoo, Suzy returns to inflict revenge on Travis and his band of ridiculously heavy sleeping friends (Jake and Cassie).
The second story is called “Theta Phi’s Never Die”. It’s a zombie revenge film set in the world of “Mean Girls”. In this segment, coed Avery has a seizure during a sorority initiation ceremony, caused by a reaction to a drug given to her by her sorority sisters. The sisters quickly move to cover-up Avery’s death. But with the help of some black magic, she is able to get back at those that brought on her early demise. I felt that the strongest performance in this segment (perhaps the entire film) came from Mia Doran who played the Avery character. She starts out as a timid nerdette, but then transforms herself into quite the femme fatale. And though her scenes with costar Ali Hadly were predictable, I found them enjoyable to watch. I also liked many of the slasher film inspired death scenes in this piece (especially poor Mack’s death). Madalyn Mattsy’s performance as the head Mean Girl Taylor was also better than most.
The final story is called “Vengeance is Mine”. This tale is a bit harder to follow than the others, because we are constantly jumping back and forth within the story’s timeline. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure if the lead character was even killed, though I assume she is because of the other stories. In this segment, we are introduced to an orphan (played by Jennifer Lenius), who must turn to prostitution. We learn that the prostitute wants to leave the profession for good. Unfortunately, Maggie cannot escape her past in the form of Father Auer (portrayed by Brian Rooney), who has been taking advantage of her over the years. I should warn you that this story is not for the squeamish, especially the scene where Maggie finally gets her revenge on Father Auer.
As story anthologies go, I’m happy this isn’t another found footage spotlight. There were no annoying jump scares either, and the makeup work was solid as are the camera and sound work. I did get a bit lost in that last segment, but overall the editing was fine throughout the rest of the film. And having watched the segment now, I could probably watch it again with less confusion. And using the book to tie the stories together was quite refreshing. Sequel potentials are possible, and yet are not implied. So kudos to the filmmakers on that.
In the end, I would definitely watch segments over again, but like I stated earlier, this film isn’t one that I would probably watch over again on a regular basis. I give this a 2.5 out of 5.