SXSW REVIEW: Kill Me Please

Kill Me Please, the first feature by Anita Rocha Da Silveria, begins with an extended shot of a teen girl looking at us. This is both intimate and uncomfortable, this is not the typical interaction with an audience and a character. The fourth wall is supposed to be a comfortable barrier between the audience and the events on screen. This breaking of the fourth wall is a continuing theme, a large portion of the teen girls in the film take a moment to acknowledge us, to watch us watching them. This gazing seems to serve two purposes: firstly, to make the audience complicit, and secondly to comment on the camera gazing, selfie culture we all find ourselves a part of. This duplicity is a large part of what makes Kill Me Please so impressive. Each sequence and narrative point seems to comment on several thematic pieces at once. This makes the film complex, compelling, and impressive.


Another major component of duplicity is found in the largest arc of the film, the murder and rape of women by an unknown assailant. The teenage girls react to this as teenagers do, with confused excitement and intrigue. Death isn’t a real threat in their lives, they still have that vague sense of invincibility that youth affords us all. Death is not a threat, but a strange and mysterious thing on the periphery. The other side of this intrigue is the brutal sexuality of the attacks. Just as death is a novel concept to these teen girls, so is sex. They are both concepts that were completely foreign in their youth but are now coming into sharper focus.

The major point of conversation of these girls in the film is either about the dead girls or their own sexual exploration. This conglomeration of the two results in the cinematic exploration of the dichotomy that teen girls face. On one hand, sex is appealing and their bodies are desiring that touch as they develop, on the other hand sexual violence against women is always a threat. So a large portion of the existence of these teen girls is desiring and fearing the same thing.


The other side of this is that the idea of these concepts, death and sex, are both fun and dangerous through conversation, but when faced with it in reality it can become just plain dangerous. There is a sequence in the film in which our protagonist is literally face to face with the reality of what her peers have been jokingly discussing. This changes her, as it changes all of us, when ethereal conversations become tactile and real. Death stops being mysterious and becomes tragic and sad. It is no longer intriguing.

The final component of the film to be discussed here is the changing world of intimacy. As mentioned above, the girls and the boys in this film interact with cameras in a way we are not used to. This is an extension of our current world. Today’s youth are more comfortable with cameras, the internet, and virtual communication more than ever. In fact, a large portion of them prefer this communication over real-life physical contact. The film explores this and it becomes an extension of the theme above. When real-life adult concepts can be made vague and ethereal physical absence. Love, flirting, sex, death, etc can all be different and disjointed through the lens of virtual communication. The online absence of a person can be equated with death to a person who only interacts through those channels.

There are several other layers and components at play in this film, such as the church/religion sequences, but the point is that this is a layered, complex, and ultimately compelling movie. Considering this is a first time feature film, it is probably safe to say that Anita Rocha Da Silveria is a filmmaker we should know about. It is rare to walk out of a screening with both the mind and the heart racing, but Kill Me Please does just that.


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