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Film Review: I’ll Never Die Alone (2008)

SYNOPSIS:

A group of girls travelling through the Argentinian countryside come across a girl who has been beaten to death. In their attempt to seek justice for her, they are thrown into a dangerous situation from which there may be no escape.

REVIEW:

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a good, original revenge flick. The 60’s and 70’s were chock full of them, from Brian De Palma’s take on Stephen King’s novel Carrie to Wes Craven’s seminal The Last House on the Left. Some of them are straight up classics in the disturbing/extreme horror genre, like Thriller: A Cruel Picture and I Spit On Your Grave. For some reason or other, the subgenre died out over the years, with very few good examples in more recent time. Sure, you have some films like I Saw The Devil sprinkled in, but, by and large, the subgenre practically ceased to exist in the new millennium.

Thankfully, director Adrian Garcia Bogliano decided to take a crack at it in 2008 with his film I’ll Never Die Alone. This is a bread and butter revenge flick. A group of girls travelling through Argentina pass a figure that’s laying in the grass on the side of the road, and when they stop to see what it was, they find a woman who has been raped and beaten nearly to death. They see a group of what they presume to be poachers approaching from the woods, so they load the girl into their car and take off for the nearest police station. Unfortunately, when they arrive, they realize that the policemen at that precinct were the very same men they saw in the woods, and they are quickly chased down and captured to become the men’s next victims.

The men haul them into the woods and violently, brutally rape all of them. Some of them are beaten, and the survivors are dragged to a nearby cabin to be held captive. Eventually, they escape with vengeance on their mind, disposing of their captors by various means (like a wonderfully delightful garrote made of barbed wire.) They escape with their bodies, but perhaps not their minds, intact.

This one is all about woman power, which is as valid a message today as it’s ever been. As I write this, the last week has seen a ginormous March on Washington by women’s groups, who were joined in support by hundreds of thousands of their sisters throughout the country that marched in their respective states. We have a President who has seemingly spent his entire life degrading women without a second thought. Regardless of your particular view on the man and his politics, it’s really hard for anyone to make the case that he’s a feminist. Thankfully for us, it’s these periods of history that make for some amazing films championing the “oppressed,” and while this wasn’t one of them (as it was made in 2008), I’m sure we’ll see a lot more where it came from.

There are many statements that this film makes besides violent femininity. They pass a sign declaring that the area is filled with “Dangerous Animals,” right before they see the men who have committed these atrocities, drawing a clear parallel that “man is the most dangerous animal.” Not original in any way, sure, but this film is basically a South American I Spit On Your Grave anyway, so you take what you can get. This ironically comes into play later in the movie, where the last surviving man runs into the woods and is finished off by a group of wild pigs off-screen. So, hey, maybe man isn’t the most dangerous animal after all!

The movie, as I said, isn’t original in any way. But, it’s a decent movie, and perhaps if you saw this before one of the aforementioned classics, it would blow your mind. However, unlike those classics, there’s a lot of buildup with not a whole lot of payoff. It’s actually quite a bit less brutal than those films, and even the bloody murder of their attackers is not nearly as visceral as the ones that came before. However, these girls are young, and while I’m sure everyone involved was of age at the time of filming, there are a couple of the girls who certainly don’t look it. It brings an added layer of uncomfortable to the rape scenes, and these girls are Oscar-worthy actresses in these scenes. They look shell-shocked and destroyed both during and after, and one in particular does a pretty convincing job of portraying herself as mentally unstable in the aftermath.

One final observation: interestingly enough, during those brutal rape scenes, we have complete nudity from everyone involved. One thing clearly stands out, however: while the men are as nude as the women, their dangly bits are blurred like you’d see in Japanese pornography (don’t ask me how I know), while the shots of the girls leave absolutely nothing to the imagination. While I’m certainly not going to make a value judgment of that choice in production, it’s interesting to me that a movie that follows a long tradition of female empowerment chooses to still, at its core, be a skin flick. Though, to be fair, I’m not in the slightest aware of the legality of filming in Argentina; this very well may have been a legal requirement rather than a choice for the filmmakers.

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This is definitely a film to check out, especially for those who are a fan of the genre. Though the action is a little slow coming at times, the good acting and direction make this one worth a look.

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