probably isn’t the ideal title for April 2020, but that’s not the fault of Kirill Sokolov’s blackly comic thriller, a graduate of 2019’s Frightfest selection and with enough nastiness to interest the horror crowd as well as the entertainment-starved masses. It’s also something of a Tarantino knock-off, jumping back and forward in time around a Mexican stand-off on one location; you’ll either tune in or turn off on the basis of that information, but for those engaged by that concept, Why Don’t You Just Die! does well with the dark initial conceit.
Matvey (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) turns up at an apartment building with a hammer in his hand; he’s arrived to confront police detective Andrey (Vitaliy Khaev) on the instruction of the cop’s daughter Olya (Evgeniya Kregzhde). Andrey is no soft touch, however, and proves it by promptly walloping Matvey over the head with a television set, and not a flat-screen either. The interloper wakes up to find himself hand-cuffed to the bathroom stall, and that’s just the first of a number of obstacles that lead to a virtual bloodbath on several levels.
Sokolov is working with a low budget, and lets face it, we’re not actively seeking low-budget Tarantino knock-offs right now, or indeed, ever again since the 1990’s when every twit with access to a typewriter and a camera was writing screeds of verbose dialogue unleavened with gratuitous, uninvolving violence. The Russian auteur avoids most of the pot-holes on this well-trodden road, keeping the plot-twists coming and moving the story in some unexpected directions. The violence, when it comes, isn’t mad like the remake of Suspiria, and manages to shock without pushing things into ridiculous territory.
That said, Why Don’t You Just Die! is probably best enjoyed by genre fans who enjoy watching the feast of snakes featured here; the cast of hard-boiled characters prohibit casual identification. Testing the limits of genre and heading for absurdist territory, it’s a decent calling card for the writer-director and a bloody, accomplished time-passer for the rest of us.
UK Release information: