Kirill Sokolov‘s gory debut Russian flick pays homage to the world of Tarantino, but does it do enough to stamp a mark of its own?….
We start with a young man at a front door, knocking away, awaiting for someone on the other-side to open. His clenched fist making the “knock knock” movement while the camera slowly pans behind him to reveal that, in his other hand, he is holding a hammer.
Not even a die hard horror fan will need to know that this is not going to be a routine house-call, and, you know what? We all should be very grateful!
The boy in question is Matvey (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) who is someone very much in love and will do anything for his girlfriend Olya (Evgeniya Kregzhde), even pay a visit to her parents house and, in his mind, to give Andrey (Vitaliy Khaev), the man behind the closed door, something he richly deserves.
Once the door opens and Andrey invites Matvey in, and they sit opposite each other over a kitchen table, the tension begins to crackle. Are we in for a Ben Wheatley inspired drama? A double header where the dialogue runs free with a sparkling script that grips us in a vice? Not quite!
As soon as Matvey accidentally drops the hammer, Andrey, who is also a Police Detective, suddenly realises that guy across the table is a danger to not only him but his wife, Tasha (Elena Shevchenko), who is off in the kitchen to make some tea!
Surprisingly, the film explodes into what I can only describe as a Rik Mayell and Ade Edmondson homage (If you from the UK, you’ll get the BOTTOM reference), as a comic book fight sequence breaks out, where blood and carnage pours from the screen….and all this happens before the opening credits! For those who have not seen the above (and why not?), just think of a Looney Tunes cartoon and you’ll understand the tone as everything, from bodies being thrown through walls to a TV flown in slow motion and smacking right in a face, will not only get your excitement levels flowing, but will have you wanting more! And, boy, doesn’t it just!
To his upmost credit, writer and director Kirill Sokolov’s breakthrough debut hit is a splatterpunk orgy of violence and comedy with a burst of energy that just explodes onto your screens. In lesser hands, we probably would have had to wait a good hour, getting to know each character before the shit hit the fan, but the fact the dial is turned to the max, from virtually the opening few frames, will leave you quite startled.
And yet there is something so gloriously old fashioned about the whole tale that will leave you completely satisfied! In an age where slow burn horrors are the new buzz and shoddy remakes engulf the genre, Why Don’t You Just Die is only interested in one thing – to entertain- and for that alone it must be applauded.
There are no good guys in this film. Yes, we could hold on to Matvey as some kind of hero, but the guy himself went there to kill a father on the request of his girlfriend who wanted to see her Dad dead. Even Andrey himself is a corrupt cop, with a hidden suitcase full of money, that will drag his poor work partner into the sorry mess later on in the film.
Once the first initial fight is over, the film morphs into a sort of Reservoir Dogs meets Tom and Jerry hybrid as flashbacks help move the plot along, while cartoon violence is filtered all around it! The zany approach to the violence masks the severe gore on show, with a demented power drill sequence proving to be one of the film’s most memorable scenes that will delight the gore-hounds thirsty for blood! It’s not all about the violence though.
There are some great gags that will tickle your funny bone and there is one scene, for example, in which we see a badly beaten Matvey get a drop of water in a mug that reads “To The World’s Greatest Dad” which hints at the comical genius underneath the brutality.
Set mostly in an apartment, with just the flashbacks to ease us from any feelings of claustrophobia, the more the story moves forward, the more it becomes a sort of a Western tale, helped along with a wonderful music score throughout that echoes the glory days of when Sergio Leone ruled the box-office. Even an old-fashioned Mexican stand off is filled with a dark macabre aftertaste that will have you relishing every second its played out,
Many fans, including myself at the start of this review, have compared this to the early work of a certain Quentin Tarantino; the pulp, the violence, the flowing gags full of blood. However, the truth is Sokolov has created a film that stands on its own two feet! There is an art to the mindless violence on show and, while many cleverer film critics will point to the real life social commentary that is no doubt hidden beneath the carnage, what many have missed is that Why Don’t You Just Die can be called just a simple love story!
Of a young man, who is so in love with this girl that just doing a favour at her request and turning up at a door, to what could have been his future in-laws, is the most romantic thing a man could do! It’s a shame that broken bones, gunshots aplenty, blood flowing, revealing lies and the grim reaper awaiting with glee, will take the shine off such a gesture…
Why Don’t You Just Die! will be available to Rent or Buy on 20th April 2020
Why Don’t You Just Die! is receiving a simultaneous release, both here and across the pond, on 20th April 2020, with Arrow Video giving the film the Blu-Ray treatment in the United Kingdom and a digital release in the U.S.
Like all good Arrow Video releases, Why Don’t You Just Die! comes with a selection of extras on the disc. One is a 25 minute featurette with film critic Kim Newman who talks about the style of the movie and compares it to others with similar themes, such as Westerns, Thrillers and Noir movies. Newman’s passion for cinema is ever-present and his insights provide a different take on the movie that you might not necessarily have thought of on first watch.
If you’re looking to find out more about how the film was shot, there’s a series of behind-the-scenes footage clips which show everything from practicing the fight sequences to dressing the blood-drenched set of a murder scene. Director Kirill Sokolov’s enthusiasm radiates in every clip as we see him bringing his debut feature to life.
With Kirill Sokolov having previously made a number of short films, Arrow Video have kindly added these onto the disc as extras too. In a way, this Blu-Ray release acts as a presentation and introduction to Sokolov, a name I have every confidence we’ll be hearing more of in the future.