Every single time I see a movie I really, really want to like it. I want it to be the next SLASHERS or NIGHT FEEDERS or FIDO. I want it to knock my metaphorical socks off and I want to go to my grave 30 years from now cherishing the memory of the day I saw it for the time! Yep, every single time. Even though I've been burned by OTIS and SEVERANCE and zillions of other "horror comedies" that everyone else liked but which left me cold, I still approached MURDER PARTY with the same hopeful feeling that I was about to discover a gem, a diamond in the rough. Yeah. And you know what? I loved this little independent sucker to death!
The story centers around Christoper a pathetic loner (a milquetoast dominated even by his own cat, Sir Lancelot), who while walking home from the video store after work on Halloween happens upon an invitation to a party, a "murder party"--at the bottom of the invitation are the ominous words "come alone". Intrigued by the invitation (and unable to encourage his cat to get off one chair in the living room) Christopher decides to break out of his shell. He locates the party's address on his computer, bakes some pumpkin bread, makes a knight's costume out of a cardboard box (after throwing out the perfectly good monster costume the box contained), and sets out for a night of fun. Or so he thinks.
The other party goers are; Lexi who's dressed as Priss from BLADE RUNNER, Macon in a werewolf mask, the obviously psychotic Bill as one of the baseball mimes from THE WARRIORS, Sky as the ubiquitous the cheerleader, and Paul who's doing the romantic 19th century vampire bit. And they are all quite surprised when Christopher shows up bearing gifts of pumpkin bread. They are simply stunned that anyone would be stupid enough to actually show up for something called a "murder" party. But they recover quickly and before he knows it Christopher is bound and gagged and tied to a chair. It seems that they are all avant garde artists intent upon impressing someone named Alexander who has $300,000 worth of grant money to disperse, and what better way to impress than murder someone (guess who?) in an appropriately artistic manner. After they discuss various art concepts vis a vis Christopher's dead body, Sky pipes up. She isn't totally down with the murder thing and says she has an even better idea that won't involve killing anyone, but before she can divest herself of said idea she gets dizzy, falls on a handy pick-axe, sustains a fatal head wound, gets up and says "Smells like cut grass" and promptly falls over dead. (Wow, I didn't see that one coming!) It seems she had been eating the pumpkin bread and was allergic to the preservatives in the raisins. MURDER PARTY is full of surprises like that and that's one of the biggest selling points any movie can have in my book.
Originality, creativity, and a sense of humor (the Holy Trinity), all traits which are sadly lacking in mainstream films lately but which can still be found from time to time in low budget indies such as this. MURDER PARTY also has a tight, well written story with actual character development courtesy of Jeremy Saulnier who not only wrote and directed but also acted as executive producer AND director of photography in his spare time. That's a trademark of the indie, everybody is doing at least double duty; Paul Bartlett not only played Paul in the flick he was did the make up and special effects and everyone kicked in their own money to finance the film, it was completely self-produced. And it's this kind of involvement in every level of the film's production that gives the indies their special sense of life--there's love and passion oozing out of every frame in flix like this. That's what makes them so irresistible. There's also some pretty good acting here too, with several actors deserving of special mention, among them; Chris Sharp as our hapless hero, William Lacey as the psychotic Bill, and Puff Snooty as Sir Lancelot the cat without whom they would have been unable to have filmed one of the best finales in motion picture history. Bravo Puff!
I highly recommend this one although it may not be to everyones taste since it's not a laff riot but more of a quirky satire of the world of artsy fartsy wannabes and thus may prove to be a bit slow and/or talky for those who crave pure mayhem and action. MURDER PARTY does serve up some nice blood and guts but it saves the goodies for the last 20 minutes or so of the film.
Rating: This may prove to be more of a 4.5 but I couldn't resist the urge to bump it up to a 5.
One of the best horror comedies of the decade. Smart and funny, although it may be a bit talky for those who really need lots of action in order to stay awake. Keep with it until the end, gorehounds, and you will be rewarded with 20 minutes of decent mayhem.