From the very first scene Kirill Sokolov’s debut feature Why Don’t You Just Die sets out its devilishly dark stall. As twenty-something Matvei (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) arrives at the apartment of his girlfriend Olya’s (Evgeniya Kregzhde) parents, armed with hammer. Only to be met by Olya’s father Andrei (Vitaliy Khaev) a brutish, controlling and decidedly corrupt police officer. His large sausage eating and vodka swilling frame dwarfing Matvei’s delicate and athletic figure. As he proceeds to question the reason for the young mans unannounced arrival. While Matvei nervously attempts to hide the hammer gripped tightly in his hand.
As both men sit down at the apartments small dining table, Matvei having convinced Andrea that his visit was planned by Olya. Andrei’s jittery wife disappears into the kitchen to make coffee. Just as the hammer hidden down the back of Matvei’s track suit bottoms falls to the floor with a clunk. Both men eying each other up with an increasing tension. As the conversation turns to the hammer in the young mans possession. Thereupon leading to what can only be described as twelve minutes of pure blood soaked violence.
Of course this opening is merely a delightfully tense and riveting prologue to the film ahead. One that takes clear inspiration from the chamber play. While dovetailing this with the narrative style of early Tarantino. Consequently wrapping the audience in a gloriously gruesome and comically twisted bloodbath. As the events proceeding Matvei and Andrei’s fateful meeting unravel in a wave of violence. One that easily feels like it could have come from the pages of a graphic novel.
Why Don’t You Just Die gained great traction during the 2019 festival circuit, and it is easy to see why. In effect providing us with a uniquely Russian take on the revenge driven black comedy. While in turn bathing it in ridiculously brutal body count. However, beyond the comic book violence Sokolov also threads in a clear social commentary on corruption, family and secrets, in a small film that packs a mighty punch. With set design and cinematography that envelopes the audience in bold primary colours. Alongside sound design that elaborates every bone crunching twist in the narrative. While equally imbedding the cracks, thumps and gunshots in a score that ripples with both contemporary and spaghetti western style inspired music.
In summary Why Don’t You Just Die offers a classic tale of individual and group morality, wrapped in a fast, furious and vodka drenched slice of pure theatre. One that leaves you feeling exhausted by the films conclusion, while equally relieved that you don’t have to clean up the mess.
Director: Kirill Sokolov