Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release of Russian director Kirill Sokolov’s story of betrayal and revenge- Why Don’t You Just Die!
(There’s spoilers in these walls) It’s a story as old as the hills: Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl convinces boy to murder her father who she accuses of raping her as a child. Okay, it’s not a story as old as the hills. It is, however, the premise to Why Don’t You Just Die! And it’s one of the craziest movies you’re likely to see this year.
They say people commit murder for three reasons: 1. Sex 2. Money 3. Revenge. Why Don’t You Just Die! has all three in abundance. Matvey, the boyfriend, goes to the Olya’s apartment where he plans to kill her father, Andrey. It doesn’t take long for Andrey, a corrupt cop, to add Matvey’s surprise appearance with a hammer in his pocket to sum up that he’s there to shed his blood. The result is one of the best choreographed fight scenes in recent memory.
Today’s movie-going public is easily impressed with over-edited fight scenes with needless cutaways (See: Marvel movies, the Transformer movies, The Old Guard, and Extraction). These fight scenes often take place over a large area or multiple locations which gives the director the space to have cameras move in uncontrollable and awkward ways. The result is often a scene where it’s almost impossible to see who’s doing what to who.
The fight scene, as well as the rest of the movie, in WDYJD! takes place in one room of Andrey’s apartment. Director Kirill Sokolov was constrained in what could be accomplished in a small space. He had to keep the fight between Matvey and Andrey simple and tight. There’s no room to spin, flip, or kick or for the camera to move side to side or up or down. There are no roundhouse kicks or flipping of the walls (Matvey does end up in a wall). The camera remains stationary, for the most part, so we get to see all the action. It’s an old school fight of throwing punches and blocking blows and it ends with Andrey smashing a television over Matvey.
Why Don’t You Just Die! isn’t the first movie set in one location. Hitchcock did it with Rope and then again with Rear Window. More recent movies to use one location are Stand Off at Sparrow Creek, All is Lost, and Locke. Other movies have one location, but many of the scenes occur in other areas of the same location. The library stands out as the main location in The Breakfast Club, but the movie also moves to the hallways and the gym.
WDYJD! does take detours to other locations through flashbacks but it’s only to give background to the events occurring in the apartment. Flashbacks, for the most part, are unnecessary to a movie’s overall narrative. We don’t need to know exactly why Matvey gets up after being choked out by Andrey. It’s not something we need to know to understand the story.
The other flashbacks do a little more to flesh out the background of the characters and their relationships with each other. We didn’t exactly need to see the flashback of Andrey betraying his partner, Yevgenich. What we get though is a little more information on how and why the two cops turned bad. This information could have easily been told instead of shown. However, it does serve to make the already tense situation in the apartment a little more tense when Andrey’s betrayal is revealed.
Unlike a movie like Locke or All is Lost where the characters are isolated, the characters in WDYJD! need to be brought to the central location for the movie to progress. Actions have consequences and with each action the movie comes closer to bringing the main antagonist to the apartment. Once Olya is at the apartment things rapidly fall apart.
All the secrets and betrayals between Andrey, Yevgenich, and Olya come to a head in the confines of the apartment. Like any movie of revenge and betrayal there’s plenty of blood and violence. Anyone that is averse to the sight of blood should keep their eyes covered for most of the movie, but that would also beg the question “Why are you watching if you can’t stand the sight of blood?” By the end of the movie there’s not a blood free spot in the apartment.
WDYJD! may be described by some as a comedy or at the very least a dark comedy. Though it has some moments where the viewer may laugh it’s hardly a comedy. One would be hard pressed to find humor in the goings on in Andrey’s apartment. If anything WDYJD! Is better served by asking the question “Why don’t you just die?” The “you” in question is Matvey who seems to be immune to what is going on around him. Ultimately he is the person who is trying to be killed. It just so happens that everyone else around him seems to be doing the dying.
Why Don’t You Just Die! is available on Blu-ray from Arrow Video.