In this new world of films that are pushing what it means to make art and are using the art of storytelling to the extreme, sometimes you want to watch something stupid. Stupid in this sense isn’t meaning a lacking in quality or that it is bad in any way, it is just spectacle and the ridiculousness turned up. While Shaun of the Dead has its simple-minded moments, it has a dry sensibility and humor to itself that elevates it. If Why Won’t You Just Die! was your childhood friend, they would be the one who flew off the swing and broke their legs trying to make it over the top. They aren’t very clever, but they are a blast to watch hurt themselves shooting for greatness.
A young man named Matvei was just invited in by his girlfriend’s father Andrei to wait until she arrives. Matvei came to do more than talk though, a fact that Andrei is quick to pick up on especially when he sees the hammer Matvei brought with him. One scuffle with a hammer, a shotgun, and a tv through the head later, Matvei has been subdued. However, subduing him was the easy part, now Andrei needs to find out who the young man is, and why this stranger just tried to kill him.
For any movie a cohesive soundtrack works to keep a consistent tone and straying from it can make a film feel unstructured. This would be a problem for Why Won’t You Just Die! if it wasn’t wacky with a wacky soundtrack to match it. Through the course of the film, I spotted hip-hop, ska, orchestral, Eurobeat, and western songs, all that are used in the perfect moments to capture the tone. With this wide variety of songs, they not only get to use them in fun and interesting ways, but the chaos fits perfectly into the craziness of the film as a whole.
Schadenfreude is a German term for the emotion of taking pleasure in someone else’s emotional or physical discomfort or pain. Why Won’t You Just Die! seems to revel in the tragic happenings of its characters to an absurd level. Characters will lose a ridiculous amount of blood and still find the strength to give passionate dialogue, while others will be dispatched with little love shown to them. Where these situations would be seen as miserable and dramatic or “torture porn” in other films, there is always a sense of silliness to it all and it is a point that is established very early in the film. It’s only big misstep is that in the third act where it forgets it has set up the world to be outlandish and tries to have a serious moment, before it inevitably gets back to the silly tone.
Why Won’t You Just Die! is a film that is a rare breed that I honestly can’t compare to any movie off the top of my head. The writers clearly wanted to create a clever mystery but they also wanted it to be fun. While I love the drama fueled horror that is every A24 movie, it is refreshing to kick back with a movie where people are being thrown through furniture and wall in a scuffle, and the blood is flowing like water from a burst pipe.