By DEIRDRE CRIMMINS
Though not really a horror film, WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE! will hold a dear spot in the heart of genre audiences who like body violence and laughs. The Russian dark comedy does not hold back on injuries or cartoonish mayhem, all while telling a tale of corrupt cops and a dysfunctional family. The film had a nice long run at genre fests throughout 2019, and it has now found its home streaming in the midst of our strange, dark times. Writer director Kirill Sokolov sat down with RUE MORGUE to discuss balancing humor and how many liters of blood it took to bring his film to screens of many sizes.
This film must have been so much fun to watch with audiences. What was that like for you?
I’m really disappointed now, because of the Coronavrius, with it being released just online. To watch this movie in the cinema is a great pleasure. People separate the energy. They start to laugh. There are places where they laugh hysterically and are very loud. It is a really cool feeling. This type of movie is provocative; it has a lot of shock content. Watching it in a big crowd is a separate kind of fun.
What attracts you to violence?
I’m not necessarily attracted to violence. This movie has a very specific purpose. If you take the script and read the story, it isn’t funny at all. It has a lot of social and political comments. It is a depressed and dark story. But I wanted to make this movie as fun as possible. The violence in it has a cartoon effect. It is not real. It was made to feel that while people are watching the movie, it is fake. That’s to make it much more easy going. If you take away the fake blood, people will take it closer to their feelings, and it would be more difficult for them to make it to the end of the story.
Why do you laugh at blood and violence?
Because this is not torture porn. We didn’t try to make it natural. We didn’t show any specific anatomic parts, or something like that. In this movie, our people are bags of blood. We have to spread as much blood as possible. That’s why it is so funny. If it was more natural, it wouldn’t be funny.
The score of the film also deserves a lot of credit in keeping the tone light. How did you go about developing that feel?
The soundtrack was a lot of work. Part was written and part was bought, and it took four or five months. Because the film mostly takes place in one location, I thought the music would help keep people interested. For 90 minutes they are just watching the same wallpaper. We changed the camera angles, the speed of editing, everything. It makes each scene fresh and new.
This movie is kind of postmodern. There are a lot of different genres inside. A big part is the spaghetti western, and the duels and heroes. We even called this movie “The Apartment Western.” The music worked for irony too. When two guys are in the small apartment, but the music is huge, it is kind of funny.
Were there any acts of violence you thought about putting in the film, but then decided they went too far?
Do any of the gags or injuries feel especially personal to you?
Not especially. Though, there is one piece I brought in the film was the part where he had to take the pin from the drain in the bath. It is dirty and full of hair, and he has to use his tongue. It is amazing to see people watch that, because it is very understandable. You can feel what he feels. People say, “No!” and they close their eyes. Then they start to laugh and cry. It is so disgusting it works like a big joke too. I like it. I like it very much.
How did you strike the balance between the story and the action?
That’s an interesting question and I thought a lot about it. Sometimes you look at the shots at the end of the day and you see it is just a cartoon or it is so heavy, and depressing. But you just feel it. When you edit it, you try to feel this balance. There are no rules, you just feel it.
With the politics in the film, did you have any reservations about making light of those issues?
For Russia it is not a typical movie. We have two types of movies: political propaganda or social dramas. These are very serious and very boring. They are monochromatic, very slow, and everything is bad, and there is one point of view. Life is full of different emotions. Even when things go bad, there could be fun or irony in it. This is like Irish irony. When everything is so bad, it becomes funny. If you are honest, the social commentary will get into your work.
In regards to the title: why won’t he die?
I try not to answer this question because I think everyone has their own conclusions about why he won’t die.
How much blood did you use?
About 200 liters. It was difficult because it took a lot of time to clean the set. The shooting wasn’t chronological, because of the actors’ schedules. The cleaning took a lot of time.
What are you working on now, if anything?
We had started shooting, and will likely start again in the summer. It is an adventure movie; a chase movie. Everything is outdoors. It is a story of three generations of women who try to deal with each other and are not very successful with that. That brings them to a big chase with stolen cars, corrupt cops, and wild animals. I hope it will be cool.