At once lurid and aloof, “Kill Me Please” is a truly puzzling film. A debut feature by Brazilian director Anita Rocha da Silveira, this genre mashup takes a simple horror premise and takes it to unexpected places. But while its varied themes and styles are ambitious, the film never fully coheres to pique audience interest.
“Kill Me Please” takes place in an affluent neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro, where a serial killer is on the loose. A man is allegedly raping and murdering young women. This frightening killing streak has shaken up the town, but for a group of high school girls, it is the source of endless fascination. As their sordid imaginations run wild, they spend much of their time making up stories about the killings. Further adding to their curiousity is their own obsession with the opposite sex, as they anticipate their own potentially aggressive romantic encounters. As the murders start to hit closer to home though, the girls are forced to reconsider their outlook on life, sex and morality.
Part slasher flick, part dark comedy, part moody tone poem, “Kill Me Please” explores the world of adolescence and the sociology of high school with a myriad of ideas on its mind. The first impression is that of a conventional horror flick, as we witness the first victim running away from the killer. Shot with a neon purple tint and scored with a perfectly ominous soundtrack, Rocha da Silveira the opening scenes place herself and the film in the same stylized company as other emerging directors like Adam Wingard.
From there however, the film erratically changes pace. In one scene, a dance troupe performing a music video-esque routine In others, our main protagonist Bia (Valentina Herszage) silently stares at the camera, accompanied by evocative music. Also memorable are a series of kitschy church meetings held to decry the killings, lead by a young woman who seemingly aspires to be the next Britney Spears.
Admittedly, some of these moments spark interest. But aside from intermittent announcements that “they found another body,” the script lacks a cohesive narrative to connect them effectively. And in the instances where the film begins to touch a nerve – such as the underlying apathy of groupthink – it’s not long before it jarringly switches tone and plot. Further exacerbating the confusion is the paper thin characters, the most disappointing of them being Bia. Her vigilant attitude throughout suggests some interesting psychology to be explored, but is constricted by one too many wordless artsy flourishes.
But ultimately, the largely unimpressive dialogue is perhaps by design. The film’s main draw is certainly its imagery, which has no shortage of gore or depictions of hormonal teenage desire. Indeed, there is hardly a scene without a young couple kissing somewhere in the frame. Unfortunately, a few eye-catching visuals aren’t enough to recommend this promisingly directed but frustratingly written film.
“Kill Me Please” opens in select theaters September 1.