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Don’t Kill Me (2021) Review

Don’t Kill Me (Non Mi Uccidere) opens with Robin (Rocca Fasano, Tender Eyes, Hard Winter) driving erratically at a high speed along a winding road. He’s driving erratically because he’s got his eyes closed and his girlfriend, Mirta (Alice Pagani, Classe Z) is giving him directions. They end up in a quarry, where Robin decides to dose himself with a drug that comes in the form of eye drops. He convinces the reluctant Mirta to try it as well, “Just don’t kill me”.

The next thing, Mirta knows, she’s waking up in the family crypt and having to smash her way out of her vault. She’s been reanimated somehow, but there’s no trace of Robin. She makes her way back to her parent’s house only to find out that food makes her ill, and her mother’s reaction is not what she expects.

A new Italian zombie film will probably always get my attention, unfortunately rather than channelling Fulci director Andrea De Sica (Children of the Night) and co-writer Gianni Romoli (Naples in Veils, Saturn in Opposition) are adapting the YA novel by Chiara Palazzolo. As a result, Don’t Kill Me is something like Jean Rollin’s Living Dead Girl, adapted as an episode of Riverdale.

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Mirta has become one of what is known as The Overdead, and she needs to feed on humans, live ones, to survive. If she doesn’t feed, she starts to rot, a rather nasty looking process we see begin before she takes her first victim. Don’t Kill Me isn’t quite a zombie film as The Overdead retain their personalities, intelligence, etc. They’re more like vampires with a zombie’s appetite.

So she begins to seek out victims, starting with Mario (Giacomo Ferrara, The Furlough, Guarda in alto). Don’t Kill Me rapidly becomes complicated at this point with flashbacks to Mitra and Robin’s relationship, her father and his mistress, a secret society known as The Benandante who have been hunting The Overdead since the 17th Century, and a mysterious biker named Sara (Silvia Calderoni, The Legend of Kaspar Hauser, Last Words). And just what did happen to Robin anyway?

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All of this is jammed into a ninety-minute running time which means a lot of things are given either cursory explanation or simply left unexplained. Some of that may be intentional because Don’t Kill Me very much feels like the first installment of a franchise and they need to hold some mysteries back for the sequels.

Don’t Kill Me was produced by Warner Brothers Italian division so it has quite good production values. That includes some convincing gore, although there isn’t a lot of it. A few nasty-looking bite wounds and some shots of decomposing Overdead. Indeed, the film seems to be more interested in showing us Mirta topless than in putting blood on the screen. It also means they could afford to put a song by The Weekend on the soundtrack. Whether you consider that a good thing or the biggest horror in the film will be a matter of taste.

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While not the return to form for Italian horror I was initially hoping for, Don’t Kill Me wasn’t quite the “R” rated Twilight it easily could have turned into. It’s certainly better than other recent imports like Fallen, although that isn’t setting a very high bar. It also lacks the over the top ridiculousness that has made so many Italian films such as Killer Mosquitos and Cross of the Seven Jewels so much more entertaining than they deserve to be,

Don’t Kill Me was released last year in its native Italy and has just made its way to Netflix in other countries.

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