Jeremy Saulnier may wind up being one of my favourite directors. I’ve now seen all three of his movies, and all three have gotten top marks from me.
There are definite similarities across all his films, but this first effort is notably more… well, more fucking hilarious. This is an amazing black comedy/horror film that was tense when it needed to be, hit every mark comedically, and was sufficiently brutal in the gore department.
The film follows a traffic warden named Chris (played by Chris Sharp) happens upon an invite to the titular ‘murder party.’ Assuming this to be a halloween party, he hastily assembles suit of armour from a cardboard box and some duct tape, cooks up some pumpkin loaf, and heads along to the party.
The party, of course, turns out to be considerably more fucked up than Chris expected. In fact, rather than a party, it is a group of aspiring artists in a warehouse, planning to murder him in order to impress this guy named Alexander – who is promising a large grant to the best artist in the group.
Through all of this, Chris must take advantage of the constant in-fighting and drug-induced insanity, in order to get away.
In some ways, this plot feels somewhat familiar – but as with Saulnier’s two later films, this movie completely flies in the face of genre expectation.
Many filmmakers would’ve chosen to give Chris a knack for strategy, fighting, or just have him be level-headed enough to get his shit together and make a plan but that just isn’t the case, here. Chris is fairly hapless and, while he does make the occasional smart decision, most of the time a situation tilts in his favour, it tends to be more the result of either dumb luck, or the stupidity of one or more of his captors.
That’s the other great thing, here – the villains don’t have much of a plan, either. Hell, they seem fairly surprised that anyone even showed up to the murder party at all. They’re all self-obsessed, not all that smart, and more than somewhat inebriated.
If this movie proves anything, it’s that a film can be mostly dumb fun, without having to be totally predictable.
I… I fucking loved this movie.
Watch it. It’s good.