Violent horror comedy ‘Why Don’t You Just Die!’ may be a new genre classic

by Nick Spacek on April 20, 2020

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Solid Rock Fist Up]

Writer/director Kirill Sokolov‘s feature debut, Why Don’t You Just Die! hearkens back to the mid-’90s comedy-action genre, wherein the plot refuses to be linear, violence is presented with the slapstick joie de vivre of a Warner Brothers Looney Tunes short, and no one is to be trusted. The film, out Tuesday on demand and VOD from Arrow Video, is a wacked-out piece of cinematic hilarity, and an absolute blast to watch. Sokolov creates total madness of the absolute best kind.

“Matvey (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) has just one objective: to gain entry to his girlfriend’s parents’ apartment and kill her father Andrey (Vitaliy Khaev) with a hammer to restore her honour. But all is not as it initially seems, and Matvey’s attempts to bludgeon the family patriarch to death don’t quite go to plan as Andrey proves a more formidable – not to mention ruthless – opponent than he anticipated … and Matvey, for his part, proves stubbornly unwilling to die.”

Crosses, double crosses, and triple crosses are all the name of the game in Why Don’t You Just Die! Matvey is maybe the only character with honorable intentions, with crooked cop Andrey, his daughter Olya (Evgeniya Kregzhde), and fellow cop Yevgenich (Mikhail Gorevoy) all possessing backstories which lend suspicion to their actions.

The film’s short flashbacks to explain why each is doing what they do is pure Tarantino, but they’re also useful in lending the blows landed by each on the others some extra psychological punch. You get to hoot and holler as you discover why certain things seen early on happen, and then watch as Matvey, Olya, Andrey, and Yevgenich have their own realizations. Secondly, these flashbacks provide a break from the otherwise incessant action, allowing the audience a bit of a breather before dropping them back into the fray. 

Honestly, though, the backstories are there just to give the horrific violence which erupts onscreen some justification. The majority of Why Don’t You Just Die! takes place within the confines of one Russian apartment, wherein a game of ultra-bloody cat-and-mouse takes place. Condense The Raid‘s entire apartment block to 800 square feet, add psychological manipulation, and 200 liters of fake blood, and you have Sokolov’s film.

Not since Evil Dead II has splatstick been rendered so wonderfully on screen. For those unused to this level of gore in a comedy, it’s going to be rough going. Even the Coens didn’t show the body going into the woodchipper. However, for those who’ve grown accustomed to the madness of The Night Comes for Us or Deadpool, Why Don’t You Just Die! has a gleeful unreality suffusing its gritty tale of abuse, theft, and moral turpitude which lends the movie its sense of fun.

The number of name drops I’ve made in this review might make it seem like Sokolov doesn’t have an original bone in his body, and that’s certainly not my intent. He’s not taking plot points or set pieces from any films which have come before. Instead, he’s doing that rarest of things a writer and director can do, which is to pull the ideas and feelings evoked by all these other movies and rendering them down into something new.

It’s not the sight of Bruce Campbell being pummeled repeatedly and still, somehow, getting up from which the director is pulling. Rather, what you get is that sense of your jaw dropping in amazement, curling up into a grin, and then dropping open again as you release a chest-shaking guffaw. Kirill Sokolov’s Why Don’t You Just Die! is just an astonishingly well-constructed piece of filmmaking, and the sort of movie destined to become necessary viewing for anyone who likes a chuckle with their shotgun blasts.

Nick is a self-described “rock star journalist,” which is strange, considering he’s married with two kids and three cats. This is just further proof that you can’t trust anyone online. In addition to his work for Scene-Stealers, Nick can be found bitching about music elsewhere on the Internet at his blog, Rock Star Journalist, and the Pitch’s Wayward Blog.

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