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Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel's low-budget horror film "Deadgirl" arrives on DVD on a wave of good buzz from festivals and a growing fan base. Lower your expectations.

Rickie (Shiloh Fernandez, TV's "Jericho") and J.T. (Noah Segan, "Fanboys") are a couple of high school miscreants who skip class one day. J.T. takes Rickie to an abandoned mental hospital for some drinkin' and destroyin'. Venturing into its bowels, they find a young woman spread out on a table. She's naked, under a sheet of plastic, and dead.

Well, apparently.


This girl (newcomer Jenny Spain) not only shows signs of life, but can't be killed, try as J.T. might, much to Rickie's horror. So J.T. also starts abusing the dead girl in another way — you can guess how exactly —? and it drives quite a wedge between the boys. Rickie'd rather snuggle up to a real girl "? in particular, Joann (Candice Accola (TV's "The Vampire Diaries").

Where it leads is inevitable, although I wasn't quite expecting the film's cruel final shot, especially coming right after a moment of hope. Needless to say, the subject matter is grim and depressing; even if you have a cast-iron stomach for these things, as I do, you may not be immune to boredom.

As if channeling Gus Van Sant, the directors shoot with a maverick style that works for them (and for their lack of funds), but I can't help but think Trent Haaga's script would have worked much better if written as a short film. Once they find the titular corpse, which occurs only after some serious padding, the movie's already hit its peak.

I have to single out Fernandez among the cast; he radiates a pre-crazy Joaquin Phoenix vibe. —?Rod Lott

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