DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
DEAD GIRL, THE (director/writer: Karen Moncrieff; cinematographer: Michael Grady; editor: Toby Yates; music: Adam Gorgoni,; cast: The Stranger:-Toni Collette (Arden), Giovanni Ribisi (Rudy), Piper Laurie (Arden’s Mother). The Sister:- Rose Byrne (Leah Folger), Mary Steenburgen (Beverly Folger), James Franco (Derek), Bruce Davison (Mr Folger), Christopher Allen Nelson (Murray), Joanie Tomsky (Therapist). The Wife:- Mary Beth Hurt (Ruth), Nick Searcy (Carl). The Mother:- Marcia Gay Harden (Melora Kutcher), Kerry Washington (Rosetta), Lee von Ernst (Del), Elizabeth & Gillian Pernoll (Ashley), Bobby Hosea (Detective), Carla Jimenez (Ashley’s Caretaker). The Dead Girl:- Brittany Murphy (Krista Kutcher), Josh Brolin (Tarlow), Kerry Washington (Rosetta), Nick Searcy (Carl); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Eric Karsten/Gary Lucchesi/Tom Rosenberg/Kevin Turen/Henry Winterstern/Richard Wright; First Look International/Lakeshore Entertainment/Pitbull Pictures; 2006)

 
"A dreary Chick Flick serial killer film, that puts a human face on the vic as it focuses on all the women affected by the serial killer."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

A dreary Chick Flick serial killer film, that puts a human face on the vic as it focuses on all the women affected by the serial killer. Writer-director Karen Moncrieff ("Blue Car") is more concerned with getting to know the victim of a serial killer and the serial killer, both before and after the murder rather than the police chase or building suspense. The result is an arty different kind of a serial killer pic that's not necessarily better--just different. It uses five interrelated stories ("The Stranger," "The Sister," "The Wife," "The Mother," and "The Dead Girl") to make its case.

The film opens with the chapter entitled The Stranger: When the withdrawn Arden (Toni Collette) discovers the mutilated corpse of a girl in the hillside of her property, she takes a souvenir from the body and notifies the police. Arden lives with her despicable invalid mother (Piper Laurie), who constantly berates her. She defies mom bt going out a date with a creepy supermarket checker (Giovanni Ribisi ).

The Sister: Graduate school morgue attendant Leah Folger (Rose Byrne) thinks the murdered corpse she's attending of the latest serial killer is her missing sister because of certain markings on her arm, but her mom (Mary Steenburgen) refuses to believe that's her daughter and vows never to stop looking for her.

The Wife: Ruth (Mary Beth Hurt ) and Carl (Nick Searcy) are locked into a loveless marriage, and we witness serial killer Carl leave the house after a nasty verbal exchange to go out riding at night. The next day Ruth discovers female belongings in one of hubby's rent space storage rooms and now knows what her hubby does when he leaves her.

The Mother: Melora Kutcher (Marcia Gay Harden), mother of the serial killer vic, comes to LA from her hometown of the state of Washington to identify her prostitute daughter's body. She returns to the motel where her daughter Krista (Brittany Murphy) lived and meets her black prostitute roommate (Kerry Washington). She fills the distraught and guilt-ridden mom in on the dark secrets why her daughter at 16 ran away from her and takes her to meet Krista's 3-year-old daughter Ashley.

The Dead Girl: Krista after a spat with her selfish pimp boyfriend (Josh Brolin) hitches a ride at night with the stranger Carl to go to Norwalk to give her daughter a birthday present.

It's a serious attempt to convey the real horror of women who are brutalized by their family life, men and the system. The film is well-acted, sincere and heartbreaking. It's not entertaining unless one gets off crying into their hankies. Though the segments are uneven (the least interesting was The Sister and the most interesting was The Mother), overall the film sustains a certain power.

REVIEWED ON 9/14/2010       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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