Dead Dicks, co-written and co-directed by Chris Bavota and Lee Paula Springer, is a terrible title. I don’t mean that the movie is bad, but that the name of the film is incredibly misleading. There are dead bodies, and the three central characters can be jerks. And yes, one of the characters is named Richard, of which “Dick” is a nickname, though he is never called that. He goes by Rich, Richie, and Richard. So, that is strike one against the title. Strike two is that of tone. Dead Dicks conjures images of a zombie comedy about some frat bros coming back to life (The Coed And The Zombie Stoner), or maybe a private eye who investigates the supernatural a la Dylan Dog.
But no, Bavota’s directorial feature-length debut, and Springer’s first credit at all, is a dramatic horror film about the toll depression takes on sufferers and those who are in their orbit. Important, heavy stuff, to be sure. Absolutely none of which is conveyed by the title. No matter what else I may think of the movie, I desperately hope that the title will soon be changed to something more suitable. That’s already two strikes down, and we haven’t even gotten to the review proper yet. Is that strike three, or do the filmmakers succeed at their intense goals?
“…she finds herself surrounded by dead bodies, each being Richard.”
Becca (Jillian Harris) is already late to work when her brother Richie (Heston Horwin), calls her panicking. She bails on her job to bail him out from whatever predicament he is caught up in…again. As Becca makes her way towards Richie’s apartment, neighbor Matt (Matt Keyes), yells at Becca about the loud music at all hours of the night, and other poor behavior from Richard. Becca tells Matt that she’ll talk to her brother about it all.
Once in Matt’s apartment, she finds herself surrounded by dead bodies, each being Richard. As the alive copy of her brother explains, through some inexplicable, creepy hole in his bedroom wall, whenever he tries committing suicide, a duplicate is made. He compares this to making a copy of a copy of a tape. This means recent events are all a bit fuzzy in his memory. Understandably, Becca is freaked out by all of this but agrees to help him get rid of his own corpses. But, Matt, still frustrated with all the noise, comes barging in and becomes a copy himself. However, once copied, one cannot leave the apartment. Now, with everyone stuck there, simmering problems begin to boil as feelings and the truth all come to light.
Feelings on the title aside, Dead Dicks is a most frustrating enterprise. For some 40-minutes or so (which is about half of this movie’s runtime, as it clocks in under an hour and a half), there is no one to empathize with or root for. This means that the audience is stuck watching people doing things without investing in their actions or fate, aka things are pretty boring early on, despite the strange, Cronebergian scenario of the movie. Take Becca, for example. She constantly, and selfless, uproots her plans and life to come over to help her artistic brother down from the brink.
"…I desperately hope that the title will soon be changed..."