Horror is perhaps one of the most widely accessible markets for independent cinema. Year after year, amateur and fledgling filmmakers decide to try and get their start in genre and the fruits of their labor populate internet streaming by the hundreds if not thousands. But as with all moviemaking, it’s an arduous and stressful process that requires many trials and tribulations.
I Need You Dead begins with a wacky and wild drug fueled house party attended by all manner of punks and weirdos. Most prominent of which being our ‘hero’ Dood (Estevan Muñoz) as he tries to have a few beers and laughs with his pals. Accidentally ingesting too many “dummy gummies” just as the extremely crooked and drunk police raid the party. He escapes in his Gremlins themed car but ends up with an unexpected passenger… a horrible smart ass living mound of flesh, tentacles, and hair (Ty Anderson, Borderlands 3) who won’t leave him alone and won’t stop messing with him. Now Dood has to figure out how to ditch the evil creature while dodging the cops out to nail him on drug charges, but there’s a deeper horrors as the story and film itself seems to be jumping off the rails.
The debut movie from Rocko Zevenbergen, I Need You Dead has all the staples of a Troma adjacent horror comedy including blatant gore, weirdness, and even Lloyd Kaufman himself in a bloody funny cameo. But things soon take a more grounded and debilitating turn once we go from the ‘movie’ to the real world where Rocko and his misfit crew and cast try to complete the product. Turning into a 4th wall breakdown as the director slowly has a mental breakdown.
It’s an interesting concept and definitely not the type of thing that’s expected when the basic premise is about a bastard tumor with teeth. As the movie continues, already in a lo-fi VHS style, the film degrades along with its creator. The video quality falls, the sound becomes more muffled and erratic, the actors have less heart and soul. The art reflects the author and vice-versa. It is ambitious and creative, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite stick the landing. Particularly in terms of timing and pacing. Most independent horror movies tend to try and be speedy and kinetic, which is how things start. But as things go off the rails into the dramatic, the movie tends to drag for long periods of time. Featuring extended scenes of mania or just walking the scenery that don’t really add anything.
It’s a bold effort that makes for an interesting contrast between the neon drug horrors within the movies from the director’s grounded monetary and production horrors, but it felt a bit lacking. As well, despite being a focal point of the story and posters, the monster in question doesn’t really figure into the plot too often and the numerous sub-plots with the cops in real life and the actors portraying them weigh things down too much. There’s a lot of interesting ideas, they just don’t mesh together by the end. Still, if you’re in the market for an elevated indie horror movie, I Need You dead may be a good bet.