If Timur Bekmambetov had directed 2014’s Everly with Wile E. Coyote as the technical advisor, you just might have something like Why Don’t You Just Die!. It’s a wild, wacky ride. While one might itch to make clever comparisons, this frenzied flick comes solely from the mind of first-time director and all-around wild man, Kirill Sokolov (who also wrote the screenplay).
When Matvei (Aleksandr Kuznetsov) knocks on the door of a nondescript apartment, he does so with a single goal in mind: to kill its occupant, Andrei (Vitaliy Khayev). Never mind that he’s never even laid eyes on the man; Matyei’s girlfriend Olya (Evgeniya Kregzhde) asked him to do it. Armed with a claw hammer and not much of a plan, Matyei soon learns that he’s outmatched in almost every way. Almost. You see, Matvei is imbued with a certain superpower. But his stamina is put to the test throughout the film, and so is our capacity for violence and gore.
While Why Don’t You Just Die! is not a horror film, it will make you cringe and squirm as if you’re watching one, and at times you may even gasp or laugh out loud. People are stabbed, shot, shanked, spiked, shackled and shoved through walls at the speed of light, only to have it happen all over again. While most of the absurdist action takes place inside retired police officer Andrei’s flat, there is a series of flashbacks that tie the tatters of the plot together in a neat, if bloody, bow. Think of it as a Russian neo-noir grand Guignol chamber play on morality and consequence.
While the brutality keeps a breakneck pace most of the time, Why Don’t You Just Die! does sag a bit in the middle as Sokolov slows the story down to expand on how corrupt a cop Andrei really was, while bringing a couple of other characters (read: fresh blood) into the mix. But that’s okay; it’s a needed break, levels the playing field, and gives one the option to side with Matvei in this terrifying tête-à-tête in spite of the fact he went there to murder a man he’d never even met.
As high-concept features go, this 95-minute midnight movie hits all the right pain-points. Why Don’t You Just Die! starts off at a dead run and doesn’t stop until the body-count reaches absurd highs—and what’s more, the ending is perfectly fitting.