From the film’s IMDB.com citation:
“After a moment of total teenage angst, a young punk finds himself at odds with a psychedelic monster of his own creation.”
If I’m being perfectly honest, then I’ll admit it’s a bit difficult to talk openly about I Need You Dead without spoiling writer/director Rocko Zevenbergen’s storytelling ‘twist.’ As a reviewer, I’ve always taken just a little bit of pride out of the fact that I try to discuss all flicks respectfully and intelligently without divulging any central plot turns, but this one presents a unique challenge. So … let me put it to you this way: those expecting to stay entirely with Dead’s opening story – a yarn presented as a kinda/sorta stoner comedy with a terrific monster angle – are likely to be disappointed. Traditional Horror is really only the packaging used to explore the metaphor of making a film, and what folks really should expect here is a Psychological Horror.
Now, I don’t volunteer that information as a reflection of quality in any way. It’s only a qualifier meant to give me – the reviewer – the proper context with which to discuss what the film has to offer of substance (and, in short, I think there’s plenty).
Using the framework of a film-in-progress within a film-in-progress, Zevenbergen and his band of pranksters have actually constructed something arguably darker than the conventional Horror movie tropes used to set-up the tale of Dood, Pal, and – well – that vile, bloodthirsty talking head with razor-sharp teeth. After all, they’re little more than pawns on the filmmaker’s chessboard, leaving the true God Complex ripe for presentation on the main stage. It’s there where the audience will be introduced – albeit quickly and with little pomp and circumstance – to the true movers and shakers of Dead, and rest assured that not everyone will get through this journey with their body and soul intact.
Once these narrative connections have been established, it becomes clear that Dead is one massively ‘meta’ multiverse in the mind of the storyteller, and the tale could easily be suggested to be a life-changing metaphor for … well … it could honestly be for a whole lot of things. The struggle of making a film. The task of seeing things through from start-to-finish. The never-ending battle of staying true to one’s vision. The Sisyphean challenge of keeping your head ‘in the game’ when life itself would pull you in a thousand directions. So if there’s a downside to the road taken here it’s that it could all be a cautionary tale with number of morals. That’s not a bad thing; it just leaves the work wide open for interpretation … and I’m a dude who prefers to do less ‘supposing’ and more ‘reacting’ as a critic.
But about that Dood …
Lastly, I’d be a fool if I failed to mention that it’s flicks like I Need You Dead that over the years have made me become more and more a champion of the independent film scene. This is the kind of story that couldn’t survive inside the studio system perhaps because it’s a bit raw for some and probably more than a bit cerebral for your average motion picture executive. Sure, I could quibble with a particular scene’s edit – some go on a bit longer than necessary and maybe a sequence here or there re-establishes a point already made better elsewhere in the story – but those qualms are trivial. What Dead lacks in money and marketing it more than makes up for in creativity and purposefulness. While the end result may not be to everyone’s tastes (hell, even I didn’t think much of its first twenty minutes), I encourage everyone to give these fringe storytellers a chance … and you might just emerge very, very impressed.
I Need You Dead! (2020) is produced by Bad Taste Video. According to a press citation I’m looking at from late 2021, the feature film is available for streaming on Vudu, YouTube, and Amazon Prime. As for the technical specifications? The flick has a fair amount of what I’d call ‘parlor trickery’ – more so in its second half – that’s meant to be an organic part of the story (it has thematic relevance), so just a bit of warning on that. You’ll know it when you see it.
No, no, and no: independent films are not for everyone, but anyone who likes stories that push boundaries artistically should definitely warm up to I Need You Dead! It dabbles with creativity in so many clever ways that it deserves to be embraced by an audience that loves film and the endless possibilities that go hand-in-hand with the medium. A few excellent performances and a solid ensemble might make you think about your own descent into the daily mountain of madness that is your own life, though you’ll hopeful emerge with a better conclusion than our budding auteur does here.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Bad Taste Video provided me with a complimentary streaming link to I Need You Dead! (2021) by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.