Archive for October 20th, 2009


Halloween Party: Murder Party

Murder PartyIt’s time for another Halloween Party movie review! This little-known 2007 flick came to my attention when I saw the trailer on another DVD so mediocre that I don’t even remember what movie I was watching. The premise looked interesting and I wanted some unusual content for the Halloween Party, so I threw it into the NetFlix queue. I was pleasantly surprised.

Murder Party follows a loser named Alexander (Alex Barnett) who finds an invitation in the streets to a Halloween “Murder Party.” Not having anything else to do, and evidently never questioning the wisdom of accepting an party invitation that is literally blowing in the wind, Alex makes himself a cardboard suit of armor, bakes a loaf of pumpkin bread, and jogs on over for the fun. When he gets there, he discovers he’s the guest of honor at a party thrown by a mob of pretentious art students, each of whom is intending to use his very real death as the centerpiece of their latest work of art. Their plan to kill him begins to go awry, however, and soon it is the artists themselves in very real danger of becoming a living — and dying — work of art.

Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier covers all the bases in this movie — the painter, the filmmaker, the photographer, the insufferable performance artist — and manages to pack in a lot of comedy in a terribly dark premise. The film treads a very thin line — at any moment it runs the risk of becoming horribly bleak and depressing, yet somehow it never does.

The characters are surprising as well. Typically, I need at least one character to root for in any movie. I don’t necessarily need a happy ending to be satisfied, but if I don’t at least want someone to succeed, the outcome doesn’t matter to me. This movie is a rare exception. I’m not pulling for anybody, but I still want to see what happens. The art students, without exception, are obnoxious, self-important, pretentious jackasses. Instead of rooting for them, I found myself wanting to see how they were going to get knocked off, not unlike watching a good slasher film. As for Alex himself — he’s a totally pathetic character. And I don’t mean that in the “lovable loser” sense, he’s just a loser, nothing lovable about him. But just like the slasher, you find yourself accepting him as the instrument of death for the characters you’ve grown to hate. (Not in the Michael Myers sense, but… eh, I don’t want to spoil it.)

The movie was made on the cheap, and there’s no attempt to mask that fact, but that’s just fine. It fits in pretty well with our money-hungry art student characters, each hoping to snare a grant to fund his or her next masterpiece. Everything from the sets to the costuming looks like it could have been made on the same shoestring the wannabe killers are living on.

I didn’t expect to like this movie quite so much. By most reasoning, I shouldn’t. But I did.

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