A staple at quite a few genre festival in 2019, Why Don’t You Just Die! is the explosive feature debut from Russian writer/director Kirill Sokolov. The film tells the story of a young man named Matvey (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) defending the honor of his girlfriend, Olya (Evgeniya Kregzhde), who claims she was sexually abused by her police detective father Andrey (Vitaliy Khaev) beginning at age 12. With murder on his mind, Matvey arrives at the father’s apartment with a hammer in hand, ready to take out this very bad man. But things don’t go exactly as planned, and what follows is a manic, blood-soaked, utterly brutal tale of ruthless behavior, deception, greed, and classic revenge. And for all the blood, gunplay, blunt force trauma (to many heads), and other acts of extreme violence, nobody in this damn movie wants to simply die with anything resembling dignity or expediency.
Why Don’t You Just Die! absolutely feels like the type of film that would come from Russia. It’s grimy, aggressively unpleasant at times, and its attitudes about family, fair play and corruption seem about right with the perceptions many have of our on-again/off-again enemies. But the film is also darkly funny in the way it displays the Russian people’s particular brand of toughness, which borders on indestructibility. The detective father may not be a child rapist, but he’s far from the perfect parent either. And Olya’s reasons for targeting him may be completely selfish, but that doesn’t mean that her father didn’t scar her for life by being petty and psychologically awful in so many other ways.
As the drama in the apartment plays out, each major character gets a quick flashback story about how they ended up where they are at present. One of the sadder stories belongs to Andrey’s long-time partner and friend Yevgenich (Mikhail Gorevoy), who desperately needs money to keep his sick wife alive a bit longer. But rather than take pity on his friend, Matvey sees him as weak and double crosses him in an unforgivable way. There are no good people in this film, except perhaps for Andrey’s shell-shocked wife Tasha (Elena Shevchenko), caught in the middle of this family crisis and making tea for anyone who asks, but not sure what the truth of any given situation is and wanting desperately for the chaos to end one way or another.
Why Don’t You Just Die! is kinetic filmmaking that takes the time to dig into the motivations of its characters just enough that we actually care, to a degree, who lives and dies. The biggest shame of having this movie released only on streaming platforms is that audiences will be denied the opportunity of seeing it in a crowded theater. The film almost seems built to be an interactive experience, and audience members would clearly be quite vocal at some of the creative forms of violence on display. The film may lose a bit of the propulsive quality it has in its opening moments, but it’s still a fun time for those who can handle blood and guts by the bucketful.
The film is currently available on Digital HD.
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