I introduce to you, intrepid and sexy reader, the Mini-Review! We pour through quite the volume of film each week and while I’d love to write a lengthy review for everything, truth is a lot of the time the magic don’t muster. Times it be the dreaded block of the writer, other times I can’t care to scrounge 800 words for a flick – even if I dug it.
Let not the Mini-Review be a testament to a film’s overall quality. When one surfaces, which will be frequent, think of its lack of length as editorial concision, not inherent indictment.
Written and Directed by Jeremy Saulnier, 2007
Not resigned to spend Halloween watching bad horror with his cat, Sir. Lancelot, hapless schmoe, Chris, constructs an impressive knight costume out of cardboard and heeds an invitation found on the street to a ‘Murder Party’. Unbeknown to Chris ‘Murder Party’ is a literal title; a collective of artists are planning to murder whoever arrives in as artistic a way as possible with the winner receiving a large grant from a mysterious art aficionado.
But accidents define the night, swamping everyone’s original plans. Director Jeremy Saulnier juggles his own charming script for a balance of satire, slop and slapstick. No scares here, no jumping boogeymen. Murder Party is a smile horror film, peeled grapes as eyeballs. Successfully more ambitious than its budget permits, bloody, quick and clever. Saulnier establishes the Party personality right away. More laughs are had before Chris even reaches the party than in most recent sitcoms. The artists are all dressed in amusing garb, with an enjoyable Blade Runner Pris costume in the mix, plus one of them kicks off the fatal mishaps within minutes of Chris’ arrival.
Unfortunately Saulnier also plateaus before he peeks, never quite reaching the raucous pitch quested after. The film’s genre credentials are heartfelt but belated, opting not to bloom until the final act. A cadre of sharp performances compensate, however, keeping the air fresh even as the momentum idles before the blood gushes. All considered, Murder Party is a valiant stab at gag macabre that entertains within its limits.