Too many moments in “Play Dead” lie just as stiff and lifeless as the subject of the film. It hangs an entire film upon a premise that wears its welcome too quickly.
Dale Spitler is just your average homosexual high schooler, babysitting for trailer park queen Darlene Murphy and her morbid daughter Dustine. The object of Dale’s affection is Raymond, the captain of the wrestling team who obviously has zero feelings for Dale. Not to worry though, as Dale’s friend Violet killed Raymond in a car explosion, and the two of them are in charge of disposing the body, with Dale having his own agenda in mind.
Okay, this is probably the best homosexual-necrophilia movie I’ve ever seen, but then again, that isn’t really my sphere of taste. There are extremely funny moments and some great performances (Nathan Bexton is worth watching along with Sheri Rose, but Jessica Stone steals the screen as the morbidly sweet Dustine) but after Dale “consumates” with the corpse, there’s really nothing left to the film. Writer/director Jeff Jenkins lingers too long on moments that drag and don’t go anywhere (the disposal of the body, Dale’s undressing of Raymond) not to mention an ending that instead of giving answers leaves us with more questions, and not to the film’s benefit. It’s like the joke that keeps repeating the punchline, after you laugh the first time; there’s really no place left for the film to go. The shame is that there is great stuff here, in the performances and content, yet you almost want Jenkins to go further into John Waters’ decadence and really go the distance that the film promises. In the end, the film is just too damn moderated and subtle for its own good.