DEAD DICKS (2019)
Directed by Chris Bavota, Lee Paula Springer
Written by Chris Bavota, Lee Paula Springer
Starring Heston Horwin, Jillian Harris, Matt Keyes, Kristina Sandev, Leyda Aleyli, Dave Campbell
Find out more about this film here!!
DEAD DICKS is a soulful tale about living and dying with mental illness and the struggles that has on those who love them. It’s also a quirky and funny film, despite it’s serious subject matter. Added to that, it’s got a twisted eye for violence, body horror, and other worldly weirdness.
When her mentally ill brother Richie (Heston Horwin) doesn’t pick up the phone after urgently calling her multiple times, Becca (Jillian Harris) leaves work to check on him. What she finds is Richie’s dead body hanging in the closet. After breaking down and crying, Becca is shocked to see another naked Richie walking around the apartment eating cereal. It seems, after attempting suicide, Riche finds out that another fully developed copy of his body emerges from a stain in the wall that looks like a vagina. He knows this because he’s tried it numerous times before. Attempting to process all of this information, Becca attempts to do what she usually does—clean up Richie’s messes.
While there are some shocking moments of horror and twisted otherworldly cosmosis going on in DEAD DICKS, at its core, the film is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story of the love between a brother and sister. Horwin and Harris communicate this love in an extremely deft manner—not so much through words, though they do have multiple conversations about the harmful co-dependent relationship they have with one another, but more so with the action of the story. Many indie films get to their point through endless amounts of jaw-flapping, but while there is a lot of talking about feelings in this one, DEAD DICKS also has the action, intrigue, comedy, and horror to back it up.
While there is an appearance from the annoyed neighbor from time to time, the bulk of DEAD DICKS is Horwin and Harris riffing off of one another in Richie’s apartment. Surprisingly, though, I wasn’t bored a minute as this breezy little sci fi horror film really manages to balance the drama with the weird in a way that works. The vagina stain is fantastically realized. The birth of the new body is equally and wonderfully gross. There is a complex story of life, death, and rebirth at play here that says a lot about the human condition, but it doesn’t end up being bogged down with exposition or confused with big brain cosmic talk.
I was surprised how moved I was with DEAD DICKS. While Richie seems to have a much more callous and defeatist way of looking at life and death, but a sincere love and dependency on his sister, Becca’s resentment and dedication towards her brother is communicated in an equally heart-wrenching manner. By the end of this story, you know both sides of these extremely flawed individuals in an intimate way some films never dream of developing. DEAD DICKS never forgets it’s a weird TWILIGHT ZONE-esque body horror film, but manages to intersperse the drama just as capably. It’s a really great film that will make you wince, laugh, and maybe even shed a tear at the devastating effect mental illness has on all who orbit one afflicted with it.