The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Digital] - DEAD DICKS | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Digital] - DEAD DICKS

dead dicks review
A mentally troubled man is 'reborn' whenever he commits suicide, only to leave a fresh corpse behind every time he does so.

Review by Ren Zelen

Directed by: Chris Bavota, Lee Paula Springer

Starring: Heston Horwin, Jillian Harris, Matt Keyes

dead dicks poster

I found it difficult to know where to start with this movie. It is well meaning but misguided in several ways. The first mistake is its awful title, which is quite misleading. You’ll be disappointed if you are expecting Dead Dicks to be the kind of gross comedy that ‘the lads’ might be tempted to watch while downing beers and ordering in pizza.

Instead, it is a somewhat absurd genre film with a smattering of black humour, but which seriously makes an attempt to examine the impact of mental illness on a family. This unfortunately means that its tone is rather inconsistent. That’s not to say that you can’t joke about dark subjects, but the fact that the filmmakers found it necessary to start off by putting up a content warning about suicide might indicate that there are those who won’t find this subject matter at all funny.

dead dicks review

The film earns that initial warning as it opens with a scene showing Richie (Heston Horwin) committing suicide by suffocation. It then moves to his sister, Becca (Jillian Harris), who is thrilled by her acceptance into a graduate nursing program, but unsure how to break the news to Richie, her mentally fragile brother.

Unable to reach Richie and unaware of his apparent suicide, Becca leaves to go to her current job as a bartender, only to receive repeated messages from her brother throughout the evening. She eventually finds this alarming enough to beg for some time out from her boss so that she can go and check on him.

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Once at his flat she is horrified to find Richie’s body in a closet, but is then even more shocked to see him wandering around his flat naked. Becca is furious with him for having dragged her over to witness what she thinks is a practical joke and even less pleased that she has had to apologise to the downstairs neighbour, Matt (Matt Keyes), whom Richie has annoyed by cranking up the stereo to the loudest volume.

As Richie semi-coherently explains, he has killed himself several times that day but has been ‘reborn’ via a tellingly shaped portal that has mysteriously appeared in his bedroom wall. The problem is that each reincarnation leaves his previous body lying dead somewhere in his flat.

dead dicks review

Dead Dicks is not entirely about suicide; it tries to deal with how the mental health or addiction issues of one person might affect others. Richie imagines that he may have found a way of sidestepping his problems by being ‘born’ afresh. However, it turns out to be just another way of continuing to avoid dealing with the underlying root of his unhappiness.

Sister Becca too, is buckling under the weight of the responsibility and emotional exhaustion that caring for Richie entails -  being there to pick up the pieces when he’s falling apart, looking out for him, checking on him and helping him clear up the mess he makes. The idea of escaping to live her own life as a nursing graduate seems to get further and further away as she feels trapped by her brother’s dependence.

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Filmmakers Chris Bavota and Lee Paula Springer place these siblings in a small apartment where they have to deal with the extraordinary situation that has befallen Richie and confront the difficulties of their relationship, the immediate problem being that, with downstairs neighbour Matt threatening to call the police or the supervisor, the siblings have to work out how to dispose of several dead bodies.

It's not long before Becca discovers there are other secrets in Richie’s flat and the situation is more complicated than she realised, and it begins to dawn on Richie that no matter how often he is ‘reincarnated’ it doesn’t provide him with a fresh start; he just returns as the same guy with the same problems.

dead dicks review

It occasionally seems that Springer and Bavota are making up the rules as they go along to keep their premise from falling apart. They cleverly get around this by allowing the unstable Richie to offer his rather incoherent explanations for what is happening. This allows us to be sceptical about his solutions but accept the contradictions because they are coming from a character who is inconsistent in himself.

There is something to be admired in the originality of this story and in the attempt to examine the pain and confusion of living with mental health issues, and with the frustrations of having to support someone who has these issues. However, by the end of their film Bavota and Springer seem to have backed themselves into a narrative corner. The resulting denouement is rather unsatisfying and does not really provide a successful resolution. Rather like their character Richie, they seem to find themselves stuck in a psychological rut and are at a loss as to how to escape it.

Dead Dicks is on UK Digital from August 3rd, and on US DVD, blu-ray and VOD from July 28th.

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