Directors: Chris Bavota, Lee Paula Springer
Starring: Jillian Harris, Heston Horwin, Matt Keyes
Words – Nathan Scatcherd
A sci-fi gallows comedy dealing with family trauma and co-dependence – with a Cronenbergian twist – Dead Dicks is a sharp and moving feature.
When down-on-her-luck Becca receives some distressing messages from Richie, her mentally ill brother, she goes round to his apartment to check on him. She finds him alive and well… although his flat is littered with corpses, all of which are apparently exact copies of himself. There is a giant flesh-like wound in Richie’s bedroom wall, from which these copies apparently spawn after each one dies. Richie has been repeatedly killing himself, waking up as a copy each time to continue the cycle. With Becca’s help, he endeavours to discover what’s happening and maybe connect with his frazzled, overworked sister.
What follows is a film which manages to walk the tight line between comedy and tragedy, using its sci-fi premise as a foundation on which to look at how family members can sometimes be bad for each other, examining the relationship between Richie and Becca, which is less that of brother and sister and more of patient and carer.
Harris and Horwin do great work in genuinely feeling like slightly estranged but ultimately loving and committed siblings, who have been through some rocky patches but remain loyal to each other regardless. The film’s moments of comedy are usually of the fairly dark variety; the film doesn’t flinch from the subject of suicide and you may consider this a warning if suicide/self harm are particular triggers for you.
The film’s greatest strength is the way it tackles the subject head on while still finding moments of amusing absurdity in its increasing sci-fi weirdness, and the warmth between its two leads keeps things from feeling too grim. Dead Dicks is smart, touching and worth your time.