Ideological concerns notwithstanding, I won’t lie and tell you I don’t love a good violent movie. I love it a lot. In fact, the crazier the violence is, the more intrigued I am. Perhaps this is a byproduct of the war-crazed world that we live in, but that’s a story for another day. Why Don’t You Just Die? is one of the most violent films I’ve seen lately, let alone a film that could be loosely described as a comedy. It is shot in the style of vintage Guy Ritchie meets Tarantino and seems like it could be either British or American, but this film is Russian.
Why Don’t You Just Die? starts with our hero of sorts, Matvei (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) outside of an apartment door with a hammer behind his back, saying to himself “Evil won’t touch me” a number of times before finally knocking on the door. An older gentleman in his 50’s answers and it appears that Matvei is at his girlfriend’s father’s house. We don’t necessarily know why Matvei has the hammer with him, but we know it’s to be used toward a nefarious end and it doesn’t take too long for the father, Andrei Gennadievitch (Vitaliy Khaev), to find out. It turns out Andrei is a police detective, but it could have taken someone with far less deductive reasoning to figure out that Matvei wasn’t on the up and up.
“Of course, nothing goes smoothly and the next hour and a half is a comic thrill ride of blood-soaked vengeance…”
Matvei is there on behalf of Andrei’s daughter, Olya (Evgeniya Kregzhde), who told Matvei some very damning information about Andrei and that she wants Matvei to kill her father. He must be pretty in love with her because he shows up to his house with a hammer. Of course, nothing goes smoothly and the next hour and a half is a comic thrill ride of blood-soaked vengeance, that doesn’t just involve Andrei, Olya, and Matvei. It also involves Andrei’s partner Yevgenich (Mikhail Gorevoy) and his demure to a fault wife Natasha (Elena Shevchenko).
This is not a film to see, if you can’t stand the sight of blood, because almost every scene is filled with it. Think the scene with The Wolf from Pulp Fiction…that much blood, but for an entire hour and a half. If you’re desensitized to these things, for better or worse, such as myself, then you’ll laugh and cringe and love the whole damn thing. The script is relentless in the obstacles that every character has to face, and manages to make us care for five people who are largely unlikeable.
“…you’ll laugh and cringe and love the whole damn thing.”
I sincerely hope that this film makes it to theaters and not just festival audiences because Why Don’t You Just Die? is made for those who love horror as well as the visceral comedy of Tarantino or Martin McDonagh. It also offers a pretty satisfying conclusion which not all of the films from those directors can say the same. I’m interested in seeing more of director Kirill Sokolov’s work, as well as just more modern Russian cinema in general, because if Why Don’t You Just Die? is any indication, there’s some good stuff out there in the land of Vodka and Vladimir Putin.
Why Don’t You Just Die? (2019) Written and Directed by Kirill Sokolov. Starring Aleksandr Kuznetsov, Vitaliy Khaev, Evgeniya Kregzhde, Mikhail Gorevoy, Elena Shevchenko, Igor Grabuzov, Aleksandr Domogarov. Why Don’t You Just Die? screened as part of the 2019 Cinepocalypse Film Festival.
7 out of 10 stars