Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Murder Party

   According to IMDb, this little gem of a movie was filmed with no money. I realize that's probably not entirely accurate, someone had to have cash here and there, but to make something like this without a significant budget whatsoever? That's the real feat here! Murder Party hums on the kind of energy you'd find in a Tarantino movie, but has the guts and creativity of an original Evil Dead flick. Many comparisons can be drawn between Murder Party and The Evil Dead, but none more important than the shining testament of what a bunch of friends can do when they set their hearts on making a movie. Murder Party is a crazy good time.

   I feel like more people need to know about this flick. It's not precisely obscure but it's not super well known either. It comes from Jeremy Saulnier, pulling far more than double duty as writer and director, but at least he's edged into the spotlight having cranked out Blue Ruin and Green Room- both of which got excellent reviews. I saw Green Room, and loved it- and it's roots are plainly seen in Murder Party. However, this movie is definitely more comedy-inclined, aiming to make us laugh through the tension.The story has a plain and lonely man named Christopher who happens upon an invite to a 'Murder Party'. Being that it's Halloween, and he's nothing better to do, he decides to go. Instead of a conventional party however, he finds that this 'Murder Party' is far too true to it's name.

   Trapped, with a group of ridiculous 'artists' trying to decide how best to kill him, things get really weird. Murder Party, like Evil Dead or even Saw, makes the absolute best of it's limited setting. Most of the movie takes place in this run-down warehouse, far away from prying eyes and well out of pedestrian earshot. The movie also gets it's mileage out of it's absurd characters. Christopher spends a big chunk of the movie tied up and gagged, while his captors bicker and joke around him, but like a Tarantino flick, it's the dialog and dynamic of these characters that makes them fun to watch. The movie is also surprisingly bloody, which is always a welcome element. I was very impressed that Saulnier and Co. were able to do so much with so little.

   I've seen big budget horror movies that don't have a fraction of the energy and creativity that Murder Party does. As such, the movie is deceptively low key for a while, and you're unsure if a legitimate murder is even going to take place. The artists end up playing truth or dare, ordering food, painting, and having sex, all while waiting for 'the witching hour' so they can all stab Christopher in unison. Of course, the mix of booze, drugs, and emotions running high end up backfiring for the group in spectacular ways, sending the movie into an elaborate and intricate tailspin of complete bloody mayhem. The climax of the movie is stunning and over the top in all the best ways possible.

   Murder Party is old school horror. No fancy filmmaking gimmicks, no CGI, no bullshit. The gore is all done practically, and the story is straightforward. It's laughs and it's absurdity are as finely tuned as it's eventual madcap bloodbath is. I won't lie, the virtually nonexistent budget does give the movie a decidedly cheap feel, and holds it back in some areas, but it's far more impressive that the movie even got finished, and ended up being legitimately good. How many promising concepts and premises are squandered by Hollywood, despite being fueled by millions of dollars, high profile directors, big name actors, and no fewer than four screenwriters? It's inexcusable. We need more filmmakers like Jeremy Saulnier. He's already proven his hand at horror, comedy, drama, and the most tense of thrillers.

   In short, Murder Party is full of personality and creativity, it's a horror-comedy that every genre fan should watch. I can imagine it'd actually make for a great party flick as well, with enough memorable lines in it that someone's bound to start quoting sooner or later. "I just wanted to party!" is probably my favorite. But, "Lexi's pussy screamed at me." is probably a close runner up. Clocking in at an exceptionally breezy 75 minutes, there's really no excuse to not fit this into your day. Murder Party should be considered essential Halloween viewing at least once. I can see how this might not be for everyone, but personally? I loved it.

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