Why Don’t You Just Die! is available to rent, buy or stream.
Few films set out their bloody stall as quickly as Kirill Sokolov’s debut feature Why Don’t You Just Die! Within the first few minutes, we meet twenty-something Matvei (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) as he arrives at his girlfriend Olya’s parent’s apartment armed with a large hammer. As he waits nervously outside, the door opens, and he is met by Olya’s father, Andrei (Vitaliy Khaev), a ferocious, controlling, and decidedly corrupt police officer. Andrei’s sausage and vodka-filled frame dwarfs Matvei’s delicate and athletic figure as he questions the young man about his unannounced arrival. Meanwhile, Matvei nervously attempts to hide the hammer gripped tightly in his hand.
As both men sit down at a small dining table, Matvei announces that his arrival was planned by Olya, as Andrei’s jittery wife disappears into the kitchen to make coffee. But just when things begin to settle, the hammer Matvei has now hidden done his tracksuit bottoms falls to the ground with a clunk, and the air fills with tension before erupting into blood-soaked violence.
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This is merely the opening ten minutes of Sokolov’s film and a small taster of what’s to come in a violent and darkly comic chamber play about mixed messages, family disorder and twisted loyalties. In many ways, Why Don’t You Just Die! echoes Tarantino’s early work as you question each player’s motives in the gloriously gruesome and twisted bloodbath that slowly unfurls. Kuznetsov is superb as the manipulated and bewildered Matvei, while Khaev’s Andrei is truly petrifying as the controlling brute of the dysfunctional family Matvei enters.
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However, it is Dmitriy Ulyukaev’s camerawork and Sokolov’s editing that is nothing short of genius. Here we are taken from frantic action set pieces to slow-motion capture as every drop of blood, shattered window and obliterated household item is captured in exquisite detail. Meanwhile, the sound design captures every bullet, every swish of a knife and every thud of a punch, placing you right in the middle of the comic book gore and action while bouncing from contemporary to spaghetti western-inspired music.
While it may leave some viewers queasy, Why Don’t You Just Die! is a fast, furious, vodka-soaked chamber play that joyously plays with audience expectations through a blaze of comic-book-inspired violence.