Review by Sean Boelman
Russian filmmaker Kirill Sokolov’s dark comedy Why Don’t You Just Die! is one of the most inexplicably good movies in recent memory. Even though the movie sounds like it would be an absolute mess on paper, the overwhelmingly chaotic nature of the film is infectiously fun and not quite like anything else to come out this year.
The movie follows a young man on a mission to kill his girlfriend’s father when things do not go according to plan, revealing that there may be more to the situation than any of the parties involved realize. A combination of tropes and elements of different genres, the film feels thoroughly refreshing because of its unexpectedly bizarre nature.
One of the more unorthodox things about the movie is its narrative structure. The film initially presents itself as if it's going to be an episodic film, but instead, it’s just a segmented structure. The use of flashbacks provides important context for characterization and a seeming disregard for the timeline makes the movie feel all the more hectic.
The humor of the film is also unabashedly dark and idiosyncratic. There is a certain element of wit in the dialogue, but the more impressively funny parts of the movie are those that are comically dark. The film alternates between quips and over-the-top gore, and quite frankly, it’s hard not to revel in the absurdity of what is happening on screen.
Sokolov’s character development is also very unusual because there isn’t a clear protagonist. The screen time is spread pretty evenly between three leads, and they’re all just players in the story. None of them is the hero, none of them is the villain, and none of them is the lens through which the audience is supposed to approach the story.
The actors all do a very good job in their roles. Vitaliy Khaev gives a wonderful and hilarious turn, having the best comedic timing of anyone of the bunch. Despite the exaggerated nature of the movie, he never feels over-the-top himself, allowing the film to still feel mostly grounded. Aleksandr Kuznetsov’s performance is also solid and well-rounded.
On a technical level, Sokolov’s movie is definitely very inventive. There is a lot of gore in concentrated moments of the film, and while it definitely looks very low-budget, it fits given the tongue-in-cheek tone that the movie has. The production design is also impressive, feeling admirably grimey to create the feeling of disorientation and disgust the viewer is supposed to have.
Why Don’t You Just Die! is a surprisingly entertaining film, and while it is by no means “high art”, it’s definitely worth a watch. Audiences clamoring for more international dark comedy will undoubtedly find that itch scratched by this bizarre picture.
Why Don’t You Just Die! hits VOD on April 20.