Dropping onto Netflix today is the Italian romantic horror movie, Don’t Kill Me (aka Non mi uccidere). Directed by Andrea De Sica and based on a book by Chiara Palazzolo, the movie stars Alice Pagani and Rocco Fasano, and tells the story of a deceased young woman who returns from beyond the grave, with horrifying consequences.
In the movie, Mirta and Robin are young lovers, who pass away suddenly following a drug overdose. But while death should be permeant, and it certainly seems to be that way for Robin, this is not the case for Mirta.
She awakes in the cemetery having been given another chance at life. She breaks free of her burial chamber and returns home to find her parents mourning her passing.
In the hours that follow, Mirta watches as her body changes, with her hands and fingers showing signs of necrosis. She also finds herself becoming somewhat distant and confused, getting lost in her thoughts.
However, most worrying of all for Mirta is that she has become savage, and appears to have developed a taste for human flesh. She kills without any qualms or remorse, acting vampiric by nature.
But Mirta’s return and transformation hasn’t gone unnoticed by the outside world, and a secret organisation called the Benandanti are monitoring her resurrection and tracking her movements. And when the time is right, a team of operatives strike, causing multiple injuries in the process.
As Mirta fights for her afterlife, she learns she is one of the Overdead – a name given to those who are resurrected following a violent death. But regardless of this new information, Mirta is heartbroken about what has transpired, questioning if this second chance at life is really worth taking now that she has to do it without Robin?
Now, before I watched Don’t Kill Me, I knew next-to-nothing about this movie. The film was hovering on my radar, so I was more than aware of it, but it wasn’t a picture I was paying a great deal of attention to.
There’s no specific reason why I wasn’t paying attention to Don’t Kill Me – I simply watch a lot of movies and some catch my eye more than others. However, I’m glad I didn’t allow Don’t Kill Me to get lost in the mix, because after watching this film I can tell you I found it to be a captivating little horror movie, with a great central performance and a solid story.
One of the best aspects of this film is the way it doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to the set-up. Within the first few minutes, Mirta and Robin die, Mirta comes back to life, and everything goes from there.
By dispensing with endless backstory, the film is able to get straight to the main thrust of the tale. It then uses a couple of flashbacks to fill in a little bit of the romantic history between Mirta and Robin, which in turn provides important details about their relationship.
These flashbacks are only brief, but they do the trick and offer some context to Mirta’s emotional state. They make it clear that Mirta isn’t someone who is just dealing with her own resurrection, she is also someone who is coming to terms with being alive/undead while the love of her life is gone forever.
So, by jumping straight into the story, then filling in a few gaps here and there, the movie is able to move forward quite quickly. This is to the film’s credit, and is a strength in its storytelling arsenal.
The film’s next strength comes in the shape of lead star, Alice Pagani, who takes on the role of Mirta. Pagani has to explore quite an emotional range during the course of the film, at times going into some dark places, and she manages to take it all in her stride.
Pagani never holds back and throws herself into the role. She lives and breathes the part she is playing, adding so much depth and heart to Mirta.
I have no idea if Don’t Kill Me will ever be followed up by sequel, but if it does, I hope Pagani returns to explore more of Mirta’s story. This movie feels very much like a starting point, with so much more to come, and I’d be very pleased if she remained a part of any future instalments.
Other aspects of the film which work include the gritty aesthetic, which helps to depict the world that Mirta now exists in; the sombre feel that is injected into the story at key moments; and the excellent soundtrack, which knows exactly how to capture the right mood. One example of this is a cover version of 10cc’s haunting track, ‘I’m Not In Love’, which hits at just the right moment, and feeds into the emotional state that Mirta is experiencing on screen.
All of the above is brought together by excellent direction, some good supporting players, and a general feeling that everything is coming together in just the right way. At no point does the movie drop the ball or stumble – it always seems to know what to do bring the story to life.
Sure, Don’t Kill Me isn’t entirely original, and there are shades of other movies in here, including a dash of Twilight (2008), but these influences do not overshadow the film. A romantic horror is what is being presented, and that’s exactly what is delivered, in all its emotional, heart-breaking, grim glory.
Don’t Kill Me surprised me in the best way possible and I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable horror. What it lacks in originality and budget, it sure makes up for elsewhere, resulting in a great little film.
If you like vampire movies, have a hankering for an Italian horror film, or you are simply curious, give it a shot. It might surprise you too.