FILM REVIEW: WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE!
When it comes to International horror, admittedly Russia isn’t the first country that comes to mind. Sure there are a handful I can think of, but Russia isn’t even in my top ten when it comes to foreign horror. Anyone that knows me, knows that I actually prefer films from other countries. I find that they’re less bound to the “Hollywood” formula, and since most countries consider movies art as opposed to business, the foreign ones usually go a little harder than their American made brethren. This is definitely the case with Kirill Sokolov’s feature film debut WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE!(WDYJD). WDYJD is not a “horror” film per se, but it’s definitely a nasty little piece of extreme cinema with enough arterial spray to make Takashi Miike blush.
The film opens with a young man named Matvey (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) standing outside of an apartment with a hammer gripped in his hand. Just the way he’s holding it lets us know he’s not there to fix anything with this blunt instrument. A rough looking middle aged man named Andrey (Vitaliy Khaev) opens the door and suspiciously greets the young man. At this point we don’t know anything about these guys. We don’t know who they are or what their intentions are. Matvey claims to know Andrey’s daughter and Andrey reluctantly lets him in. Matvey stuffs the hammer down the back of his pants and heads on in. After an awkward exchange, it becomes clear to both men that some shit is about to go down.
Matvey is too quiet, and Andrey can sense the tension as he finishes his lunch. The hammer falls out of Matvey’s pants as he sits down, and both men just stare at it. Moments later all out chaos erupts as both men begin trying to kill each other. Hammers are swung, shots are fired, and after a few seconds, Matvey goes to reach for his hammer. It’s precisely at this moment when we see a television flying through the air in slow motion straight for his face. The TV makes contact and blood and glass go flying. It’s at this point that we are introduced to Matvey through a flashback.
In what can only be described as a Gaspar Noe inspired love scene, we see Matvey trying to have sex with a woman named Olya (Evgeniya Kregzhde). The scene is drenched in a red monochromatic palette almost like the aesthetic of the movie IRREVERSIBLE. Olya is not giving into Matvey’s advances, but she is spreading her legs in a seductive manner driving the young man wild. She then asks if he would kill for her? At this point he’ll say anything to get closer to Olya, so of course he says yes. She tells him that she was raped by her father as a girl, and she needs him gone before she can give herself to anyone. Hence, Matvey standing outside of an apartment with an OLDBOY style death-grip on a hammer. Things are starting to become a little more clear.
Matvey awakens from this flashback to find himself handcuffed to a pipe in the bathroom, while Anderey talks with his wife on the other side of the door. They’ve all got decisions to make. This is where WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE! really begins to take shape. We learn that Andrey is a crooked cop, and that his daughter may or may not have actually been sexually assaulted. Either way, Matvey is in a bad situation that’s only about to get worse. In one of the more cringe-worthy scenes in the film, Matvey finds a bobby pin that he wants to use to free him from the cuffs. Of course as he’s inching it off a ledge, it falls just barely into the drain. Matvey will now use his tongue to extract the pin from the bottom of the filthy bathtub. As he sticks his tongue in and around the drain, dislodging all manner of hair and slime, he ultimately gets the pin. While Matvey is working on freeing himself from the cuffs, Andrey is calling one of his crooked cop buddies to come help him deal with the situation at hand. Through another series of flashbacks, we learn a little bit more about Andrey, and the lengths he’s willing to go to make a few extra bucks. I really want to refrain from talking too much more about plot details since the twists and turns that lie ahead are so deliciously macabre. Suffice to say, Andrey wants to dispose of this kid bleeding out in the bathroom, but as the title of the film suggests…Matvey isn’t going to be that easy to get rid of.
WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE! is a non-stop bloodbath from the first five minutes, all the way to the film’s final frame. It’s fast paced, clever, and slick as hell . I remember “slick” being a dirty word back in film school, which I never really understood. Isn’t it good when someone comes up with a unique and innovative way of telling their stories? The use of slo-mo, flashbacks, zooms, crash cuts, etc…it just puts all the elements together in a way that is so much more dynamic than we’re used to. For example, when Matvey is trying to pick the lock on his cuffs, it actually cuts to what looks like a Youtube tutorial complete with voice over and cut-away cuffs showing how to successfully pick the lock. Just when you think he’s got it, it cuts to another tutorial showing you a more modern set of cuffs with a different mechanism altogether! It’s laugh out loud funny, and soul crushing when the first attempt fails. In another scene someone suffers a shattered wrist. Instead of just hearing the crunching sound, which we do, the film actually cuts away to an animated x-ray showing the bones tearing apart. It’s great, and legitimately made me squirm at times…all with a huge smile in my face.
This film is bloody as hell and very unpredictable. As I said, it’s not really a horror film, but the gore level and violence kind of put it in an area that is hard to classify. I guess it’s a bloodsoaked revenge/comedy? Is that a thing? I doubt any regular readers of this site will be disappointed if you give it a look. It’s also set to be released by Arrow Films at the end of the month. As many of us know, Arrow doesn’t fuck around, and at this point I’ll check out anything they’ve got coming. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes of the entire film. As one character is standing up holding his entrails from falling out, he exclaims “and so I’ve lived to see my death”. I found it strangely poetic, and kind of a metaphor for the entire film. Because death there is aplenty.
WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE! is available on streaming platforms on April 20th!
“WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE! is a non-stop bloodbath from the first five minutes, all the way to the film’s final frame.”
4 Tombstones out of 5….