Why Don't You Just Die! (3 stars)

Why Don't You Just Die!

Visually dynamic but morally dubious Russian black comedy, from Kirill Sokolov

In a world of visually bland blockbusters, it's fun to see filmmakers stretching their stylistic muscles – Russian director Kirill Sokolov's wildly titled Why Don't You Just Die! is one such example. The story begins with a young man, Matvei (Aleksandr Kuznetsov), visiting his girlfriend's parents, intending to kill her father, Andrei (Vitaliy Khaev). Violence then breaks out in the small Moscow apartment, where various characters converge.

With his debut film, Sokolov (assuming writing, directing and editing duties) wears his influences on his sleeve. There's something of the narrative hopscotch of a Tarantino film in its playful structure, the visual gimmickry of Edgar Wright's Cornetto trilogy is in evidence too, and it nods to Lexi Alexander's cult favourite Punisher: War Zone with its distinctive, contrasting colour palette and penchant for OTT violence. While, in its slapstick tone, a later scene evokes 2007's 'The Shooting' / 'Dear Sister' sketch from Saturday Night Live.

It's certainly not a film for the blood-averse – there's buckets of the stuff spurting and gushing throughout the film. Yet the rich art direction and resourceful camerawork around the confines of the apartment make it a pleasure to watch.

But there are stumbles: the darkly comedic air glosses over a suicide; the whooshing sound effect as the camera glides towards its subjects is overdone; and a few shots look awkward, not quite matching the precise visual tone established. Most disappointingly, and irresponsibly, the story hinges on a false rape accusation. When the accusation is made, it – mystifyingly – is shot as an objectifying close-up of the woman's mouth while she speaks. Elsewhere, women appear as a dismembered corpse and a battered wife. Enjoying creative filmmaking while female characters get short shrift remains an exhausting compromise.

Available to watch on demand from Mon 20 Apr.

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