The film Let’s Play Dead Girl is rooted deep urban legend and internet mythology. In 2014, two middle school girls led a friend into the woods near their home and attempted to sacrifice her to the Slenderman. In a news story that is in and of itself the stuff that urban legends are made of, the two obsessed preteens followed the supposed rules of an imaginary being by taking their classmate deep into the nearby forest and repeatedly stabbing her in an attempt to summon the Something Awful/Creepypasta-sired monster into our world. What neither of the attempted murderers expected was for their blood offering to survive. This is the sort of bizarre, unsettling subject matter that director Christian A. Moran found impossible to ignore in his film Let’s Play Dead Girl.
Now, normally, when a film is “inspired by true events” or any variation of that phrase, I roll my eyes and settle in for something exceptionally banal and hokey. However, Let’s Play Dead Girl is anything but as it takes the tragic events that inspired the script and focuses on a very human and emotional moment in the lives of three young girls. The story focuses on Josephine (Yessenia Rivas) and Juda (Yeena Sung), the twelve-year-old best friends who have created a vividly real, god-like creature known as Alto. Alto has many forms and both Josephine and Juda see him in slightly different variations, but with an overlapping vision of the essence of the being. Alto is going to take them away from their mundane lives and bring them to a beautiful, paradisiacal place. All they have to do is provide the proper sacrifice to show him that they are truly worthy of his blessing. Enter their biggest fan Consuelo (Laura Guzman), another twelve-year-old girl who loves the stories and art that the duo has created about the mysterious Alto. She joins them for a sleepover, unaware of the killer intentions unfolding around her.
The story of Let’s Play Dead Girl is emotional, heartbreaking at times, and keeps you riveted to the edge of your seat as it unfolds in a beautiful array of colors and shots, all designed to lull you into a false sense of security before hitting you where it hurts. There’s innocence and darkness in every scene as the girls alternate between being typical preteens and sadistic monsters harboring a soul crushing darkness as they plot to murder a completely guiltless peer. Each scene is dressed in a deceptively non-threatening background, complete with imagery that makes it all the more shocking and terrifying when you see the horrors being engineered in the hearts and minds of the characters.
Then there’s Alto itself. The creature is very much a Slenderman proxy and each of the girls see him in a series of visions that blur the line between delusion and supernatural encounter. To Juda, he is a proper, refined creature mimicking a man as best it can, while Josephine sees him as a more primal nature god. Meanwhile, Consuelo can only see him in the forms of art and story created by the other two. As the creature appears to each girl, both in their bedrooms and in the wooded areas of the neighborhood park, you have to ask yourself just how real he actually is. Is Alto a thought form creature born from the overactive imaginations of two prepubescent girls? Is he a demon from beyond our world using the children as a means to enter? Or is he the most telling sign of an overactive imagination that has slipped from adolescent fantasy into a full blown psychotic break/mass hysteria? It’s a question left to the audience to decide as they watch the destruction of three young lives.
Let’s Play Dead Girl has been making the rounds at film festivals all over the country and has received critical acclaim from everyone who has had the chance to review the film. The cinematography is stunning, the acting is flawless, and the story itself is chilling and all too real. The performances delivered by Yessenia Rivas (Josephine), Yeena Sung (Juda), and Laura Guzman (Consuelo) are nothing short of brilliant. If you get the chance to see this short film, don’t hesitate. Just watch it. To find out where the film is appearing next, be sure to follow the film on Facebook and Twitter.