In Diego Freitas’ directorial debut My Dead Ones, Nicolas Prattes plays a shy film student named Davi. He spends most of his time hiding behind a video camera and looking at others through a lens. His self-imposed isolation is the result of a past he doesn’t discuss — we learn about it, bit by bit, through scattered, glitchy memories and heinous actions. Davi‘s state of loneliness changes, though, when he meets Jônatas (André Hendges), an alluring man who brings the young voyeur out of his shell and makes him feel like he’s worthy of love.
Parallel to his making a new and intriguing friend, Davi is preoccupied with finding those responsible for his troubling childhood. His mission eventually leads to a spate of gruesome murders that he films, then posts on the dark web. Whispers of a killer lurking on campus spread, but so far, no one suspects Davi. It doesn’t take long, however, for both his worlds to collide and for the truth to finally come out.
“the surreal depiction of […] emerging sexuality is both sharp and inviting to anyone who craves films detailing unconventional queerness.”
What immediately stands out about My Dead Onesis Freitas’ use of trauma; he uses it as a driving force in everything we see unfold on screen without needless exploitation. As in real life, the damage done has no expiration date — it’s something Davi lives and deals with on a day-to-day basis. He doesn’t recognize its effect until later on, and that crucial scene of earth-shattering cognizance resonates with anyone who’s ever felt stuck in the past.
The usage of blue tint, suggesting a false sense of calmness, heavily sits on top of imagery that shifts between dreamy and nightmarish. Cinematographer Kaue Zilli beautifully correlates the film’s visuals with Davi‘s ultimate coping mechanism; finding solace in delusion is more desirable to him than living with the alternative. For a great many of us, sadness becomes the mental equivalent of a teddy bear that is hard to live without, and the thought of leaving it behind is even more daunting. Freitas captures this fact with able knowledge and skill behind the camera.
Nicolas Prattes’s performance is steadfast and career-defining. He breathes life into a fleshy, contentious character whose actions will not sit easy with anyone who possesses a functioning moral compass; Davi is such a grievous soul that sympathy isn’t out of the question, either. His uneasy mind is a dark and winding lair — laden with ill intentions and oedipal taboos — that no one should ever enter without caution. The lot of us who seek answers about why things break will undoubtedly be intrigued and Prattes’ presentation is a key reason why. His chemistry with André Hendges is one of the film’s biggest selling points; their flirtations are as attractive as they are verboten.
The movie never firmly establishes Davi‘s sexuality as this or that, and specific plot developments undermine notions as well as form new theories. Even so, the anomalous coming-out story here isn’t inaccessible; the surreal depiction of Davi‘s traumatic past stifling his emerging sexuality is both sharp and inviting to anyone who craves films detailing unconventional queerness.
My quandary with so much modern queer cinema today is more about me than it is about the movies themselves; I realize this. It’s not an issue of self-loathing or moral disapproval, either, but more about my own inability to connect to others’ stories of burgeoning sexuality. I weep for the chronically lovesick, recognize the adolescent pangs, and lament the unfair fates — yet it’s all a fantasy that I simply cannot relate to.
So when something like My Dead Ones comes along, I take notice. Diego Freitas’ vivid and startling tale of an unsound mind appealingly summarizes how a series of formative years, overflowing in trauma and familial conflict, can surmount to honest and uncomfortable realizations about one’s self. And for someone who can’t quite relate to more conventional stories of queerness, this heady, horrifying, and provocative psycho-horror movie is just too enticing to pass up.
“…this heady, horrifying, and provocative psycho-horror movie is too just enticing to pass up.”
My Dead Ones is available at Vimeo and other digital outlets now. Share your thoughts on this movie with the Nightmare on Film Street community on Twitter, in our Official Subreddit, or in the Fiend Club Facebook Group!
Hot at the Shop:
Review: My Dead Ones (2020)
Diego Freitas' vivid and startling tale of an unsound mind appealingly summarizes how a series of formative years, overflowing in trauma and familial conflict, can surmount to honest and uncomfortable realizations about one's self. And for someone who can't quite relate to more conventional stories of queerness, this heady, horrifying, and provocative psycho-horror movie is too just enticing to pass up.