KILL ME PLEASE
Director: Anita Rocha da Silveira
Cast: Valentina Herszage, Dora Freind, Julia Roliz, Mari Oliveira, Bernardo Marinho, Vitor Mayer, Laryssa Ayres, Vincente Conde
Running Time: 1:41
Release Date: 9/1/17 (limited); 9/15/17 (wider)
Review by Mark Dujsik | September 14, 2017
The provocatively titled Kill Me Please opens with a scene straight out of the opening of a horror movie. A teenage girl or young woman sits alone from her talkative peers, walks down a sidewalk with only some minimal traffic passing, and, somehow, ends up in a field on the outskirts of the city. She walks at an increasing pace, until she's running. She trips, looks up at the camera, and begins to scream, until she runs out of breath. With the camera in her face, she breathes and begins screaming again.
Save for a cut from the fall, there's not a drop of blood shed, even though we soon learn that this young woman has been killed by an unknown assailant. She's not the first as of late in this district of Rio de Janeiro. She won't be the last by the time the movie is finished, either. From the start, though, it's obvious that writer/director Anita Rocha da Silveira (making her feature debut) isn't particularly interested in the details of these grisly murders. She's barely interested in the identity of the killer, who may or may not be revealed by the end of the movie (There's a strong suggestion of the serial murderer's identity, but there's also the possibility that the movie's final killing is unrelated).
No, this isn't a horror movie or a thriller. It's a look at how the fact of these murders affects—or, better, doesn't affect—a group of teenagers living in this part of the city—primarily one girl, who begins walking the streets at night, despite the warnings on the radio and from her trying-too-hard youth pastor.
The best word to describe the kids is disaffected. They don't really care too much about the murders, except to gossip about the details that they hear in school, seek out the social networking profiles of the victims, and wonder whether or not the victims were sexually assaulted, too.
This is really happening, but for these kids, since it's happening to other people, it might as well not be real. The murders are just fodder for more scary stories—urban legends about the ghost of a promiscuous girl who died in the school bathroom, where she regularly met guys, or an actress who was killed by the jealous wife of a co-star. The details are important in such stories, but by the time those stories get through the rumors and the inflated imaginations of a bunch of teenagers, it's likely that they're more fiction than fact.
These kids keep a certain distance from reality, whether it's because they want to out of fear or because they simply do because they're desensitized to the horror. If there's a reason, Silveira doesn't offer it and definitely does not examine it. It's a movie about disaffectedness, disillusionment, and distance, and the director follows that attitude in tone, method, and the end result.
That's a longer way of saying that this is a one-note movie. That note is informative for a bit and intriguing for a while longer, but there are only so many ways to show us that these teens are in the process of giving up on life to one degree or another.
Most of them gossip and party without a care for the bigger world around them. On a further end of that spectrum is Bia (Valentina Herszage), who is 15 years old, sticks close to a tight-knit group of friends who think she's a bit strange, has no family members who appear to care about her, is far more interested in sex than her teenage boyfriend, and does indeed start wandering the streets of Barra da Tijuca at night. She never says the words of the title, but from her actions, she speaks volumes. If she were to those words, it likely would be a plea to feel something—anything, really—even if that something is death.
She's a morbid girl, for sure. While her friends treat each new murder as a source of whispered conversation, Bia hunts down the victims' profiles online. The friends talk about death, but Bia stays silent, likely knowing that whatever she might say would make her friends think she's weirder than they already do. When they find a victim, still alive in the field where the other bodies have been found, Bia stays behind and offers the dying woman a kiss. Eventually, the killings get closer to home, and the few adults—such as Bia's older brother João (Bernardo Marinho), who spends the day looking at the online profile of and calling a young woman who has gone missing, and the school's youth minister, who sings and dances to try to reach the kids—have no tangible or useful help to offer (Bia's mother, who's in an off-again-on-again relationship with a boyfriend, is never even home).
If the point is not caring, then Silveira has succeeded with Kill Me Please—and perhaps too well. We get the point fairly early into this study of extreme alienation, and after a while, it's a bit too easy to become as disinterested in Bia's miserable life as she is herself.
Copyright © 2017 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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