Reviews

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Murder Party

Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Writer: Jeremy Saulnier
Producers: Skei Saulnier, Chris Sharp
Starring: Chris Sharp, Paul Goldblatt, William Lacey, Skei Saulnier
MPAA Rating: NR
Running time: 79 min
Country of Origin: USA
read my spoiler disclaimer



reviewed by Andrew James
at Toronto After Dark Festival

      Every once in a while one of those little, independent, uber-low budget films, pops up and gets people talking. These words can be good or bad, but at least there's a spark of conversation that has the potential to lead to a true cult following. I believe that's exactly what we've got here. A rip-roaring good time that unexpectedly closed off the Toronto After Dark Film Festival with a deadly bang, not a contrived whimper.

      On the Movie Patron podcast, we often mention how good opening title sequences can be. Either to set a mood, help to open up the story line or just something unique and interesting that is fun to look at. While the opening title cards to Murder Party aren't particularly unique or special, they do help to set up a terrific feel and mood of Halloween night just before the sun goes down. They have a nice, early, John Carpenter feel to them which also helps to introduce the catalyst for this crazy story - a lone piece of paper blowing down the sidewalk.

      One Halloween evening, a dorky guy named Chris finds an invitation on the sidewalk for a "murder party." Chris decides to live a little and puts together a chincy, knight costume out of a brown cardboard box that ends up looking surprisingly similar to Monty Python's dark knight from the holy grail movie. Anyway, once at the "party," Chris is attacked and tied to a chair where he learns he is to be the star in some sort of a snuff art project for a group of disturbed and eccentric film students. Each of the abductors has their own brand of movie homage costumes (from Blade Runner to The Warriors) and while in a drug induced stupor and because of some unforeseen accidents and events, begin to turn on themselves.

      The pleasure from this movie is derived from two things. One, the surprisingly superb acting. While a bit amateur and maybe even a bit schlocky at times, it worked surprisingly well and reminded me very much of early Kevin Smith work and maybe even a hint of Tarantino-esque dialogue. The actors pull off each of their own character traits with amazing grace and realism (as real as these types of people can be). The dialogue is funny, quirky and disturbing and never lets up. It's constantly rolling and the audience seemed to roll right along with it.

      The second major factor for what makes this film so enjoyable, is the obvious fact that it is extremely low budget. When a director/producer can put together something this fun and this original with such an incrdibly low budget. "Significantly under $200 thousand" were the producer's exact words. Yeah, my guess would be closer to about $20,000-30,000. So when something works so well with such a minimal budget, it just makes the experience that much more fun and enjoyable.

      The trailer (below) really doesn't do the film justice. While it looks to be sort of a zany, chase-around, slasher film, it is actually a lot more. It's more of a character driven film, leaning much more towards comedy than horror. Oh sure, there's plenty of blood to be splattered, but this isn't the usual slasher picture your mom wouldn't let you watch at age ten. This is the creative, comedy movie your mom wouldn't let you watch that happens to have chainsaws and axe killings interspersed between tha laughs.

      The small bits of originality and believability are also what makes Murder Party so much fun. For instance, in a key chase sequence, Chris has to stop to pee while trying to escape. In any other film, you might roll your eyes and think, "what!? Why would a character do that!?" But within Murder Party, it makes perfect sense and it becomes one of those, "it's funny cause it's true" moments of brilliance.

      As the closing film for Toronto After Dark Film Festival, it was a real audience pleaser and all walked out with smiles and good things to say. Producer/star Chris Sharp was gracious and friendly at the closing party. MP obviously won't be up for any Oscars or likely even a theatrical release, but this writer believes it could be destined for cult greatness if word of mouth and a proper DVD release in the U.S. happens. Watch for Murder Party to be one of the truly great, hidden gem, genre films of the Halloween season in years to come.

Press "PLAY" to watch the trailer


Links:
IMDb.com - full cast and crew
Official Site
MySpace profile
FLIXSTER profile for Murder Party







andrew@moviepatron.com


Posted by Andrew James in
Review

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