Monday, October 5, 2009

Murder Party

Murder Party. Has there ever been a film so perfectly summed up by it's title? Apart from Underwater City of course. Oh, or Godzilla Vs. SpaceGodzilla. Or actually pretty much half of the films I watch....

Regardless, Murder Party is both described by and lives up to it's title. And the tagline? "Everybody Dies"? Believe it.

The film has split it's viewers. With IMDb boards claiming that it is both the best film of 2007 and the "worst movie I have ever seen". I have to say I don't understand the haters at all; this film is a work of genius. It's well-thought out, darkly comic and really great fun. The only negative point I'd pick up on is that it's perhaps not the best paced film of all time; more on that soon.

The premise is this: a handfull of achingly hip art-students have formed a plan. They, being so terribly avant-garde (darling) are going to break boundaries, smash taboos and cross lines like never before. Modern Art often sets out to shock or offend. Or both. These guys are going to smash previous efforts out of the water; they are planning to murder in the name of Art. To this end, they scatter invites to come alone to a "Murder Party" on Halloween, in the hope that some dumb lonely fool will take the bait and turn up. Needless to say, he does. Dressed as a Knight in carboard armour.

It's all here: the characters are perfect larger-than-life stereotypes. From face-painted coke-snorting video-artist Lexi, through heavily side-burned Paul - ever reaching for his medium format camera - to Alexander, rich-kid art poser, giving pre-prepared pseudo-intellectual speeches.

The humour here is curious. Many of the complaints on IMDb are that "it was supposed to be funny and we didn't laugh once in the whole film". Well... I'm not sure if I laughed out loud once either, it's just not that kind of funny - but it's certainly not meant to be either. This is one of the only films where you could ever hear "paper-mache elements of a massive multi-media meta-structure" coupled with "staple a pancake to his face and push him infront of a train". There's slapstick, there's violence, there's perfectly pitched piss-taking of art-students (Lexi wants to film the murder and call it 'Valediction in Black', Alexander assures them that the hapless Knight's death certificate will read 'Art' as cause of death). I might not have laughed out loud as I watched, but I didn't stop grinning at all.

Now for the problem with the pacing. The film divides more or less into three sections. The setting up of the premise and the capture of the Brown Knight is never less than interesting. The end third is completely bonkers, with some brilliant bloodshed all over the place. But the middle third? The middle-third is undoubtedly the cleverest bit; the dialogue is pretty incredible, but never means a lot. They play an inspired game of 'truth or dare', preceded by shooting up CIA-grade Truth Serum (supplied by 'Zycho' the Eastern-European (?) drug-dealer). The only shame is that the clever middle-third doesn't amount to much in terms of plot; it creates the brilliantly realised characters, yes, but never really reaches its full potential, which is a shame.

But, despite any of these criticisms, the film is fantastic. Being low-budget should never be an excuse for a film's failings but here we need no excuse. The budget here has been spent impeccably; almost never do they attempt to create an effect beyond their budget (though Macon's burns would be debateable...), which is so often the failing of a low-budget film. No, this is a case of ambition kept carefully within budget and it is all the better for it.

I have tried to give almost nothing away about the end-segment, and I believe it'll be all the better for it. This is by no means a perfect film, but it is definitely a very good film, a funny film, and a film that suggests good things for an inexperienced director's career.

If I needed to say it again, the ending is totally awesome.

I would never normally advertise a DVD, but hey, this costs a fiver in the UK or just 8 bucks in the Us. It's easily worth that much.

Trailer here:

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