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“Everything’s so dangerous,” murmurs one of the gang of teen high-schoolers in Kill Me Please, but what’s true for the characters is not always true of this too-unthreatening film, which packages its horrors too neatly into beautiful images. An appropriately lurid take on the effects of a series of murders of young women in a well-to-do neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, Anita Rocha da Silveira‘s debut is free of most of the moral nuances that might make it interesting to an adult viewer. But it also has a cultish appeal which could appeal to a teen demographic, if you accept the film’s pretty cool premise that there’s a darker psychological side behind the perfect sheen of a privileged teen life.
In the first scene, a girl (Lorena Comparato, credited simply as ‘First Dead Girl’) walks home alone at night. Something has to go wrong, and indeed it does: she screams to camera, and that’s the last we see of her. “Kill Me, Please,” flashes up on the screen in huge, screen-filling white letters, a homage to the kind of schlock-horror movie which the film wants to break down and analyze, but which it resembles more closely than it knows.
Bia (Valentina Herszage), the dramatic focus, and her friends Mariana (Mariana Oliveira), Michele (Julia Roliz), and Renata (Dora Freind), bored by the bourgeois tedium of their lives, are intrigued and return to the scene: talking about dead girls like yourselves is more interesting than talking about sex, which they otherwise spend much time doing. Bia’s religious boyfriend Pedro (Vitor Mayer) is no good, refusing to have sex with her and taking her to surreal church meetings. During the course of the film, Bia will develop an unhealthy obsession with the killings, checking out Facebook profiles of the girls as the murders mount up. Later, when they find a dying girl themselves, she gives mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
There’s a nicely rendered sense of aesthetics, whether it’s in the safe pastel shades which fill Bea’s bedroom and which contrast with the high, sharp tones of the fantasy scenes. The most powerful images in Kill Me Please, images of a threatening power, are the unpeopled ones of the Barra de Tijuca neighborhood, an area where shining white tower blocks rise indifferently over murder-ready wasteland.
Anything not relating to the girls psychological relationship with the murders is excised by the script, giving it a focus as sharp-edged and bright as the blood which in one scene comes spilling from Bia’s lips. Among the excisions are all adults — there are none at all in Kill Me Please, which is fine — and all references to police investigations, which is not, because it’s implausible. (It’s pretty clear from the start who the killer is, but the film’s interests are elsewhere.) But then of course the film can defend itself by saying it’s a mood piece, a portrayal of what happens in a young woman’s mind during a hot murderous summer. Over the last half hour, it abandons itself entirely to its images.
Ultimately, the film has its both ways: the girls are fascinated by the deaths in a pop kind of way, as though they’re something they’ve seen on TV, and they are presented by da Silveira as beautiful images. Something else which the film has excised is suffering and pain. The deaths and their aftermath are clean, and create beautiful images, and one scene later on is simply a gorgeous-looking sequence of the faces and bodies of murdered girls. It’s dark stuff, and in the end Bia comes to identify more and more with the dead girls and less and less with her friends: but the film doesn’t much care, or perhaps understand, about what’s inside that darkness.
Music is everywhere and is used well, although it’s unclear why Crimson and Clover (Tommy James and the Shandells, 1968) or Kiss and Say Goodbye (The Manhattans, released 1976) or would pop into the romantically-frustrated mind of a Brazilian girl who was presumably born around the turn of the millennium.
Production company: Bananeira Filmes
Cast: Valentina Herszage, Dora Freind, Mariana Oliveira, Julia Roliz
Director, screenwriter: Anita Rocha da Silveira
Producers: Vania Catani,Benjamin Domenech, Santiago Gallelli
Director of photography: Joao Atala
Production designer: Dina Salem Levy
Costume designer: Ana Carolina Lopes
Editor: Marilia Moraes
Composer: Bernardo Uzeda
Sales: Bananeira Filmes
No rating 101 minutes
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