Monday, April 11, 2011

I'll Never Die Alone

I’ll Never Die Alone
Original Title: No moriré sola
Directed by: Adrián García Bogliano
Argentina/Spain, 2008
Rape/Revenge, 86min.
Distributed by: Njuta Films

Four chicks take a road trip to an unknown destination. Through their interaction we get accustomed with them and get some kind of grips on who’s who. Soon they come across a woman lying in the ditch at the side of the road. She’s bleeding from a serious head injury and further away a man raises a rifle and starts taking shots at them. They take the woman with them in their car, only to witness her die as they drive towards the nearest town.

In the town local sheriff takes their testimonies and as they are about to leave, a familiar car parks outside the police station and out steps the men they saw earlier. A brief car chase later, the girls are about to face their worst nightmares as the band of men start abusing them.

From here on the movie becomes a pretty hard and pretty formulated revenge flick as the girls turn the tables and stalk the men who raped and defiled them earlier on. And unlike many other recent entries this one actually manages to be quite grim on several occasions and has some spectacular moments of coldblooded revenge.

I’ll Never Die Alone is all in all a rather decent exploitation flick, it’s got a slow build, a progressive threat and that violent point of no return where the four girls are violated in a long and drawn out process that set’s the premise for the rest of the movie – Revenge.

I really liked the small details that elevate it above the average low budget flick. Small stuff like exterior shots of the car in movement and keeping the audio digetic - creating a distance between the characters and the audience (not the same as character dimension), the way small subtle hints of back-story give dimension, and how values are set at stake. Sure they don’t progress much, but the fact that they are there prove that there’s some thought gone into the movie.

On a down side, I’d say that there isn’t enough time and space focused on the right characters. One "final girl", Leonor [Marisol Tur] has a few lines of dialogue indicating a back-story where she’s promised to take care of the youngest girl - Carol [Gimena Blesa]. Fine, it says something of her character and sets a value at stake. Which will later become a pretty neat layered reason for revenge later on – hey call it guilt if you want, that one always works it’s way in there one way or another. Being both a victim and failing her, subtext quest of protecting the young girl, she is driven to take her vengeance. Another one of the women who goes into the last battle, Moria [Andrea Duarte] hardly get’s any place in the narrative – apart from a pretty provocative off-screen moment featuring a hammer during the rape sequence - and I don’t really have any relationship with her character, which is a pity, as I don’t really give a shit about her – despite this is the chick most resembling the late Tura Satana and dealing out the best moment of payback in the entire movie. Let’s just say that there’s barbed wire involved. Although keeping in mind that this is a rape-revenge flick, I really don’t need to care, but tossing in a few empathetic traits in the characters would have gone a long way. It’s an easy trick that will help me root for the characters, instead of just take them for granted.

Here’s a tip for writers and directors of by the book rape-revenge flicks. Make me care about the female victim – sure rape in it’s self is appalling, but these movies deserve some dimension to the characters, anyway, make me care about them, then stop chickening out when it comes to the revenge! I see all this violence towards women over and over again in genre cinema, and then when it comes to their revenge it’s quite often a quick fix and off to the next one! Remember the death of Tony [Heinz Hopf] at the hands of Madeleine [Christina Lindberg] in Bo A. Vibenius Thriller - En Grym Film (Thriller - A Cruel Picture) 1974? Slow, sadistic, appalling and perhaps most importantly innovative! You hadn’t seen that before had you? Well that’s where the revenge sequences of contemporary rape/revenge flick’s need to be, grotesque, appalling and provocative. Even Ingmar Bergman and Ulla Isaksson knew this when the made the original, kick in the balls, rape/revenge flick Jungfrukällan (The Virgin Spring) 1960 fifty years ago.

Nevertheless I’ll Never Die Alone is a much better rape-revenge flick than something like Stephen R. Monroe’s remake of Meir Zarchi’s I’ll Spit On Your Grave 2010, where the most important moment of the movie is kept off-fucking-screen!

Now let’s get something very clear here. These movies are primarily directed at a male audience, in some psychoanalytical reading I guess it would be safe to say that there’s some sadistic part of “the male gaze” that get’s a kick out of the ordeal these women are put through. Then why don’t we get punished for taking pleasure in watching those scenes, why the hell would you chose to keep your main antagonists (or any of them for that matter) torture off screen?
In the 1978 original I Spit on Your Grave the best remembered moment, the iconic one – no, not Camille Keaton boating whilst swinging an axe above her head – it the one where she lures her antagonist into a bathtub and slices his fucking knob off! Now that’s still a pretty strong moment more than thirty years later, so why a remake – or any rape/revenge flick – would choose to keep male mutilation off screen is a goddamned joke. Take the opportunity to be graphic, take the moment at bay to be provocative, settle the score in the most profound fucking way that you can, but don’t, and I repeat, don’t keep it off screen, get it on there, because that’s why we come to watch, to see the old eye for an eye thesis be put into action. Someone may enjoy the rape, but make us fucking suffer the revenge in the worst possible way.

I’ll Never Die Alone works because it at least tries to give some depth to characters, minimal yes, but miles ahead of a lot the shallow one dimensional stuff out there right now. It also has a great use of a “helper”, a sliver of optimism, in the character of the police officer that meets the girls when they arrive in the town with the corpse of the dead woman. He becomes something of a beacon of hope when he later receives a phone call from one of the girls’ mother and starts his own investigation into their whereabouts. It’s a good device that brings light to a dark matter, even if I don’t want him to save the girls and punish the bad guys, that’s the surviving chicks prerogative. The style and mood is grim, the rapes are grim, the vengeance is grim – I’ll Never Die Alone is a grim film that dares to take the step ahead of cowardly contemporaries and punch back harder than the rest.


Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish Dialogue, Swedish or English subtitles optional

Trailers for other Njuta Films titles

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