The Dead Girl


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Imagine a Quentin Tarantino premise being assembled by a woman with no sense of humor.

That's The Dead Girl.

It is a series of five short stories that are all woven around the discovery of a dead woman somewhere in the desolate, remote areas of Southern California. The first story is about the socially-challenged woman who finds the body, and her date with a creepy retail clerk so fascinated with serial murder that we think he may be the murderer. The second story is about a forensic pathologist who hopes that the dead girl is her long-missing sister, so she can finally be free from the uncertainty. The third is about the wife of a trailer-trash slob who is given to mysterious disappearances, and who has apparently committed violent crimes which his wife decides to cover up. The fourth is about the mother of the dead girl. It turns out that mom knew almost nothing about her daughter's life as a prostitute. The fifth story is a flashback to the final day of the dead girl's life.

Does the film have artistic merit? Absolutely. It provides an incisive look at the lives of women - their real lives underneath their facades. It exposes the compromises they make constantly and the self-delusion that they use to cope with lives filled with loneliness and despair, lives far worse than those they once dreamt of.

Having said that, I'd add that it does not present a balanced or nuanced look. It is unremittingly bleak and sad, and it wallows in misery. If you can make a list of everything you don't want to see on screen, 90% of the elements of the list probably appear here. Mary Beth Hurt naked. A rotting corpse in close-up. An autopsy. An ancient woman being bathed. People treating each other cruelly and sadistically. An intellectually-challenged woman with rape fantasies. Two creepy murder suspects. Doomed junkie prostitutes. A little girl headed for a damaged, psychotic adulthood. The Dead Girl makes Requiem for a Dream seem like an uplifting film, except that it lacks the satiric edge of Requiem. It's just non-stop depression. If this movie were a song, it would be too sad for Willie Nelson to sing.

A real prescription for blockbuster status!

It is written well and performed by pros, but is such a complete downer that it has absolutely no commercial appeal. It's for the art house crowd only, and even within that group it's only for the most suicidal.


Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Competent and aesthetic, but only for those who care to wallow in misery.



* widescreen anamorphic

* full-length director's commentary

* interviews






It was nominated for three independent spirit awards.

75 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
65 (of 100)


7.0 IMDB summary (of 10)


Box Office Mojo. Although it features many recognizable actors and received some respectable reviews, it took in a grand total of $19,000 at the box office, which probably means that many people associated with the film never even paid to see it. It was released into two theaters on December 29th to establish Oscar eligibility, but despite being reviewed by many top New York and California papers, it never got into any additional theaters and and even those two dropped it after the mandatory two-week run.



  • Toni Collette - full frontal nudity in a long shot and a topless head/chest shot, both at nighttime.
  • Mary Beth Hurt topless in clear light and a full rear shot obscured by (digital) flames.



 Toni Collette gets my "chameleon award" for the most flexible physical appearance of any woman in film. She can look absolutely homely (as she does here), completely average (Little Miss Sunshine), or totally hot (The Last Shot).