Why Don’t You Just Die! review – a dark comedy worth seeking out

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The dark comedy Why Don’t You Just Die lands in the UK – and it’s a film worth putting on your radar if it’s not already.

Have you ever watched series one of The Young Ones, then Reservoir Dogs, then series two of The Young Ones and then written the screenplay for a debut feature film? There’s no hard evidence that this is what Why Don’t You Just Die! writer and director Kirill Sokolov did, but it’s a conclusion you might draw after watching his outlandish, violent and darkly funny film.

Police Detective Andrei (Vitaliy Khaev) is surprised when Matvey arrives at his front door professing to be his daughter’s new boyfriend. Matvey, he notices, is nervous and seems to be concealing a hammer in his waistband. They proceed to have a spirited disagreement. While Andrei’s wife (Elena Shevchenko) offers each additional visitor to their small apartment a nice cup of tea, every new person prompts a fresh round of violent chaos.

And what a strange, offbeat and unexpected film Why Don’t You Just Die! is. It’s a dark comedy full of cartoonishly over the top violence and buckets of blood. The depiction of violence here is bizarre and helps create the offbeat, crackly feel of the movie. Blows have overstated impacts, sending people flying through the air and reducing the lovely furniture to blood-soaked heaps of rubble. Wounds spill out gloopy organs. Injuries spray enthusiastic quantities of blood across great distances. It’s not just the film’s physics-defying acts of violence that create a feeling of cartoonishness. It’s a very brightly coloured movie too which, when combined with the slick cinematography, is a pleasure to look at. Confined to a small apartment for much of its runtime, this is a still a really visually engaging movie. It’s stylish, creative and anarchic. The story pulls us in unexpected directions, often turning away from the obvious while also engaging in some cheeky, genre-savvy and effective misdirection. The result is a film that is unpredictable and compelling.

Not all of the characters here are particularly likeable, mind, but they are interesting. At the centre of the film is the overbearing Andrei, untrustworthy and quick to resort to violence. He’s played by Vitaliy Khaev, and there’s something about his face that is incredibly watchable and that so fully expresses the character. Occasionally the film does run into trouble when some of the more earnest moments struggle to draw a response, as they’re dropped bluntly onto the screen. In particular, it struggles to maintain the tonal balance that makes it so compelling to start with through the last 15 minutes. It’s here that some of the moments fail to land and that you might start to consider whether it has the legs to carry it through a feature run time (it just about does, for this writer). It’s also a film that trades in extreme material and some of the attempts at outrageousness fell the wrong side of an eyeroll for me. There’s some really fun and clever stuff going on here, so it occasionally feels unnecessary and silly.

But still, Why Don’t You Just Die! is a unique, funny and exciting movie that fans of full contact cinema would do well to keep on their radar. It’s a hyperactive, colourful psycho-noir that feels youthful, fresh and inventive.

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