Don’t Kill Me, an Italian film that is currently available on Netflix, opens with two teenagers in a car. Robin (Rocca Fasano) is driving. His girlfriend, Mirta (Alice Pagani), is in the passenger’s seat. Robin is driving fast and erratically. In fact, he nearly crashes the car more than a few times. This is because Robin is driving with his eyes closed, forcing Mirta to shout directions at him. It’s almost as if Robin wants Mirta to come to a violent end.
Eventually, they end up in a quarry. Having taken a break from attempting to crash the car, Robin wants Mirta to take a drug with him. Mirta’s never tried the drug before. She’s nervous, even though Robin assures her that it will be a wonderful experience. Mirta finally agrees but requests, “Please don’t kill me.”
Yeah, good luck with that.
Of course, Mirta dies. Mirta’s body is sealed up in her family’s vault. A few hours after the funeral, a very confused and angry Mirta smashs her way out of the vault. Dazed, she wanders back to her old house. She’s definitely not alive but she’s not completely dead either. Instead, she is one of what the film calls “the Overdead.” She’s nearly immortal. At one point, she gets shot several times and, while it’s not a pleasant experience, it also doesn’t come anywhere close to killing her. She still has her memories of what life was like before she died and, to judge from the other members of the Overdead who she meets, it appears that she won’t ever age. Unfortunately, being one of the Overdead also means that if she doesn’t regularly drink the blood of the living, she’ll start to decay. Starvation is the only way to destroy a member of the Overdead. There’s a secret group of men who have spent centuries tracking down and starving the Overdead. Those men are soon chasing after Mirta.
Don’t Kill Me is at its strongest during its first half, when the film skips through time and the emphasis is on atmosphere and ennui. The scene where Mirta breaks through the crypt carries hints of Jean Rollin’s Living Dead Girl and, much like Rollin’s best films, the first half of Don’t Kill Me often focuses on both the importance and the mystery of how we recall things. Meanwhile, the scenes of Mirta wandering through the countryside and prowling the clubs for food are reminiscent of Jess Franco’s Female Vampire. The first half of the film feels like a tribute to the wonderful Eurohorror of the past. Unfortunately, the film starts to lose its way once Mirta is captured by the secret society that’s trying to destroy her. In its second half, it just becomes another film about escaping from a military base. Don’t Kill Me is based on a YA novel and it’s obviously meant to be the first in a series of films about Mirta’s life as one of the Overdead. As a result, the film’s ending is a bit unsatisfactory. For all the build-up, it sputters to a “to be continued” style conclusion.
That said, there was enough that worked about Don’t Kill Me that I’m willing to forgive what didn’t work. I may be alone in that as most of the online reactions that I’ve seen towards this film have been overwhelmingly negative. Well, so be it. There was enough atmosphere to keep me interested. Alice Pagani gave a pretty good and sympathetic performance as the conflicted Mirta and Fabrizio Ferracane, as the man determined to capture and starve her, was enjoyably villainous. Don’t Kill Me may not be for everyone but it worked for me.