Monday, June 18, 2018

Murder Party (2007)

Murder Party is the directorial debut of Jeremy Saulnier, the same name who brought us the fantastic Blue Ruin and Green Room. Some of the cast from those films also feature here, too.

Written by Saulnier also, this is a no-budget, all heart, black comedy horror which came as a really refreshing watch after a few false starts for me lately (I tried to make it through Don't Go In The Woods, I really did, but it was SO bad).

Chris (Chris Sharp) is a normal-bordering-on-boring guy whose Halloween plans involve renting some horror VHS tapes and sitting with his cat with some candy corn. On his way home that evening however, he finds an invite to a "Murder Party" and on a whim, decides to attend. He makes some pumpkin bread (and an impressive costume out of cardboard and duct tape) and heads out.

Once there, he soon realises the people throwing the party are a bunch of hipster wanker artist types, and the invite was part of a project they're working on. Even worse, the murder in question is real, and it's him they plan to kill.

Tied up and held hostage in a warehouse, Chris witnesses the group interact, with all their quirks and odd dynamics on display (unrequited love, unabashed drug use, ego, sex...). For a lot of this movie it's a one location, almost stage-play-like deal, following the Steadicam as it travels around, settling on each character as we learn a little about them. They are an unlikeable group really, but they are also such fuck-ups that it's funny to watch this ridiculous, cruel, and largely unplanned "project" of theirs play out and start to crumble down around them.

Macon Blair.

Drunk, lovestruck Macon is played by Blue Ruin lead Macon Blair (most characters are named after their actor) and is a standout amongst the group, particularly in the final act. Similarly, Chris Sharp spins screentime gold with his role, and his talent for comedy is very obvious. He strikes an absolutely perfect pitch of naive nerd in an unbelievable situation.

The love-to-hate character here has to be Alexander (Sandy Barnett), a stupendously smarmy, manipulative arsehole and the leader of the group. Barnett excels, because I absolutely hated this guy!

As the tension and antics within the warehouse increase, the third act sees complete mayhem ensue, including a rooftop chase - both characters still in costume - and the relatively gore free nature of the film up to this point, going right out the window.

As much as I'm done with railing against remakes and re-tellings, it does seem regrettably seldom that I'm left reflecting on the originality of a horror film as the credits roll. Murder Party for sure provoked this response, and has definitely made me realise that I need to add Jeremy Saulnier to my list of names to look for and follow.

Fun, funny, cute and gory. This is streaming on Shudder at time of writing!

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