REVIEW: ‘Don’t Kill Me’ Had So Much Potential

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Don't Kill Me - But Why Tho

Don’t Kill Me (Non Mi Uccidere) is an Italian-language Netflix original zombie thriller directed by Andrea De Sica with an adapted screenplay by Gianni Romoli and Andrea De Sica based on the novel by Chiara Palazzolo. Young lovers Mirta and Robin die together from an overdose just after Mirta (Alice Pagani) asks him to make sure the drugs don’t kill her and Robin (Rocco Fasano) promises that if they do they’ll make their way back to each other. Only one of them gets what they ask for.

This isn’t a love story. It’s not a romantic story and it’s not meant to be. Dispell any notion that it might be, no matter what you’ve heard or how it’s been otherwise described. Don’t Kill Me is a tragedy at the hands of an abuser, a truth essential to its plot and themes. This is evident from the first minute all the way through the last. Foremost, you can quickly surmise that Mirta has never garnered much attention from boys when she was in school, and so the minute somebody finds her attractive, she’s fawning, even if Robin isn’t particularly nice or beholding many distinguishing qualities besides “bad boy.”

In a surprising turn, it’s actually not his drug abuse that makes Robin a bad person. I mean, yes, it’s the drugs that kill them, but never in the movie’s many flashbacks are drugs a pressure point or part of his negative personality. It’s everything else, chiefly his manipulation that almost feels like grooming. Plus, he’s a bargain bin find that looks like if you took Robbert Pattinson and Andrew Garfield, mashed them together, and filtered out the more attractive parts. All the more tragic this is who Mirta pledges her life to.

I belabor this point because Netflix lists this movie under “Valentine’s Day Favorites” and it has been frequently referenced as a romantic movie. And the movie seems to be a bit unsure itself as to whether it should romanticize their relationship or make clear that it’s abusive. There’s a lot of screen time spent making Robin seem like a really nice and sensitive guy, a great lover, and somebody worth sacrificing for, even with his flaws and all. It nearly erases the multiple instances earlier on that shoot up harsh red flags, like trying to distance her from her friends and family, blaming her, and making himself out as the only person she can trust. I had to rewatch several scenes to just remind myself that these parts really happened with how thoroughly other scenes erased those moments. Perhaps this was the intention of the filmmakers all along, especially given the very clear ending, but I can’t help but be frustrated that it’s so easy to miss these red flags and just see the romance if you’re not somebody finely tuned to notice these things. The score doesn’t help much either. It rapidly changes between tense and creepy and joyful and fun. It’s almost like it’s intentionally misleading you on how to feel about Mirta and Robin’s relationship where I just wish it would be less ambiguous about something that shouldn’t be ambigious.

Beisdes the relationship, there’s also the zombie of it all. Mirta comes back. And Robin doesn’t. She’s lost, confused, upset, and trying but failing to cope. Not to mention she realizes that she’s rapidly decaying. The scene where Mirta first realizes something is extra wrong is certainly creepy, and the makeup design absolutely gory and only continues to get more vivid and disturbing as the movie goes on. Each time Mirta feeds on somebody, who must still be alive when she does in a nice piece of specificity and lore, it’s part of a very fun action sequence as a whole. I actually wish that Don’t Kill Me leaned more heavily into its action moments and trusted its actors to have the physicality to more them even more dynamic. A major action scene at the end of the movie had me on the edge of my seat with excitement until it ended up completely flattened by its unwillingness to go all the way. It was still alright, but it could have been so much more.

This is the general feeling I have about the movie as a whole. It is quite cool and feels novel despite its being quite iterative of the zombie/vampire genre. There’s a secret society hunting the zombie on top of everything, their true purpose unclear but their menacing and cruelty quite apparent. This part was nailed, as the twists, setbacks, and reveals each land hard no matter how telegraphed they may have been. And in the end, I was left enthralled by the world Don’t Kill Me created and wishing I could see it explored further in some way. It’s both a satisfying desire for more, and an emptiness of wishing the movie itself went further in showing Mirta’s full potential as an Overdead.

One of the most stand-out aspects of Don’t Kill Me is the way it blends its current and flashback scenes. They’re most often done by beginning a scene in one location and then switching the time without moving the camera or scene. It’s generally effective, but extremely so in one scene with Sara (Silvia Calderoni), another Overdead who is excellent in every scene.

Don’t Kill Me is two things at once and only really sure of a portion of itself. It’s a tragedy that can’t give up its romanticism and it’s a thriller that doesn’t fully deliver on its action’s potential. Neither of these misgivings are dealbreakers, they just leave me wanting more and wishing for the smallest bit more clarity in its vision. Overall though, it’s a fun movie, it just doesn’t meet its full potential.

Don’t Kill Me is streaming now on Netflix.


Don't Kill Me (Non Mi Uccidere)
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Don’t Kill Me is two things at once and only really sure of a portion of itself. It’s a tragedy that can’t give up its romanticism and it’s a thriller that doesn’t fully deliver on its action’s potential. Neither of these misgivings are dealbreakers, they just leave me wanting more and wishing for the smallest bit more clarity in its vision. Overall though, it’s a fun movie, it just doesn’t meet its full potential.