A series of rapes and murders targeting females in Rio de Janeiro captivate a group of teenage girls in Kill Me Please. Fifteen-year-old Bia (Valentina Herszage) is particularly affected by the gruesome descriptions of the crime scenes, which haunt, or fuel, her already buoyant sex life. When the girls eventually run into one of the victims’ bloodied bodies, they all want to flee in horror, except for Bia, whose instinct is to kiss the dying girl, if not make love to her. Though reminiscent of Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood, another film about girls banding together in the face of violence, there’s no sense throughout Kill Me Please of anything being at stake for its teenage characters. Residents of the high middle-class neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca, these girls feel oddly immune to crime, quickly turning it into sexual fodder.
Filmmaker Anita Rocha da Silveira portrays Brazilian female adolescence as an un-problematic transiting between going to church, giving head to only half-willing religious boys in public restrooms, and text-messaging, all animated by classic funk songs associated with favela life. In Kill Me Please, girls are assertive multi-taskers, able to handle their social media and sex lives seamlessly and even articulating unorthodox erotic fantasies while boys are either passive, God-fearing goody-goodies or asocial Internet addicts.
There’s no sense throughout Kill Me Please of anything being at stake for its teenage characters.
It may not be that startling, then, that Bia is more aroused than frightened by the figure of a man terrorizing her neighborhood. At times, she seems to feel a sense of identification and kinship with the murderer, or at least the violence associated with him. She takes a strange pleasure whenever she comes in contact with blood, or when she’s bruised by a girl during a school fight. These encounters with violence detach Bia from reality. She becomes quiet and aloof, not unlike Marina de Van’s self-cannibalizing character from In My Skin, disappearing into a kind of primal libidinal state.
Silveira’s slasher-film plot is simply a tease, as there are no scares here, and the filmmaker’s attempt at genre hybridization never coheres conceptually. It’s easy to reject the film’s sense of experimentation, even though more Brazilian films are in dire need of it, because the acting is so forced and the characters so underdeveloped. Kill Me Please is also gratuitously punctuated by long takes of urban landscapes that bring to mind those from Neighboring Sounds, though none of the pathos that Kleber Mendonça Filho wrung from them. All of which suggests that the film’s playfulness is less an honest attempt to create meaning in an innovative manner and more of a gathering of visual cues fishing for international recognition.