The Dead Girl (Moncreiff, 2006)

A superb drama by indie darling Karen Moncreiff (Blue Car), The Dead Girl is divided into five distinct interlocking stories centering around the brutal murder of a prostitute named Krista (Brittany Murphy). More a collection of personal trauma’s than a slasher genre exercise, The Dead Girl expertly mixes silent moments of reflection, (in)decision, and longing with a lingering sense of dread. Moncreiff begins the film with the discovery of Krista’s mangled body and ends it with an equally disturbing slow motion freeze frame of Krista’s final smile. By working backwards, manipulating time through characters acting on the fringes of the actual murder, Moncreiff establishes a rhythm of heartache which builds toward the titular devastation, one never witnessed on screen but reverberated throughout this haunting work. The Dead Girl tells it’s story through a number of affected eyes, none more so saddening than Rose Byrne’s Medical Examiner Leah, who first thinks Krista is her own grown up sister abducted fifteen years prior. Her arc reflects the long standing, knowing pain of a family torn apart by a lack of closure. The Dead Girl should not be missed, not only because it displays a brilliant collective of actors working atop their respective games, but because it’s fascinating structure shifts back and forth between hope and death, blurring the boundaries of both into a truly harrowing nightmare of reverberating pain and redemption. The title character, always in the shadows, remains a strong linking factor, one created and destoryed by the darkest of deeds and the brightest of hopes.

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