Schlocky, punk, & horror. Three words that will sell me on a title almost immediately. In the case of I Need You Dead!, though, they should have stopped there. The first ten minutes had me giggling with glee, but within the next nearly two hours of film, I got twisted and spun around so many times I barely knew my own name. Yes, this is a film within a film. Yes, this is a self-aware critique on filmmaking. Yes, this is a dissertation on filmmakers, on punk, on self-hatred, on drug use, and apparently on cops. But one thing I Need You Dead! isn’t is particularly good.
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Maybe I, myself, am such a through-and-through filmmaker that I can’t see past my own frustrations and a lifetime of bad set stories and ego-hungry filmmakers. Maybe I can see through the “deep,” “meta” story and to the core of this film–which to me reads more as disorganized, confused, and messy than the groundbreaking commentary it wants to be. It’s hard for me to see past the conflicting story lines and sudden sharp hairpin turns to the message.
As I’ve done with previous reviews, I cannot let I Need You Dead! cross over my desk without offering a content warning–besides having some gruesome imagery (emetophobia warning), it also shows some pretty rough depictions of self-harm. This is actually commented on in the meta, real life sections of the film. It distracts, and disturbs, not to great success for the rest of the movie. The commentary on mental health, addiction, and depression is crucial–and I will say that I admire that it isn’t handled with kid gloves – but I wonder if this is exactly the commentary needed right now.
Lingering, long segments distract from meaningful montages. A slew of young actors pulling faces and mugging for the camera distracts from the story. It’s a tale of distraction from start to finish – sadly distracting from what makes it an important movie. Distracting, especially, is one of the most successful parts of the film in my eyes–the bizarre, hairy, fleshy self-doubt monster “Dood” (Estevan Muñoz) creates from the depths of his own mind. A real, practical, puppeted hate monster? Sign me up! But wait, don’t get too committed–suddenly the B-movie horror shlockfest becomes a commentary on cops and addiction.
There’s a lot of things I wish I Need You Dead! was–but what I wish most, is that it was honest.
4 out of 10