There are no shortages of Halloween themed horror movies but Murder Party by writer director Jeremy Saulnier stands out from the crowd not only for its incredibly low budget (almost non-existent budget to be frank) but for its bizarre off-the-wall characters and nonsensical plot. There are no unkillable killers wearing William Shatner masks in this outing, no demons from Hell to terrorize the local teenage community, and no vengeful spirits using Halloween as their evil Spring Break, instead we have a hapless schmoe fighting for his life against a group of pretentious idiots, this is Murder Party.
The central character of Murder Party is Christopher S. Hawley (Chris Sharp), a parking enforcement officer who lives alone with his cat Lancelot, when coming home from work one Halloween he spots a fancy “goth” envelope lying on the sidewalk and in it he finds an invitation to a Halloween costume party entitled “Murder Party” and without further thought Chris decides to attend. That the invitation only reads “Murder Party, Tonight!” followed by an address, located deep in the heart of the warehouse district, doesn’t raise any flags in Chris’s cranium, and after he quickly whips together a knight costume using an old cardboard box, and making a loaf of pumpkin bread from the remains of the pumpkin he found smashed on his stoop, he heads to the party.
When Chris arrives at the location, a place that looks more in keeping with mob hits than parties, he is confronted by those throwing the party; Paul (Paul Goldblatt) in period vampire attire, Macon (Macon Blair) in a werewolf mask, Sky (Skei Saulnier) as a zombie cheerleader, Lexi (Stacy Rock) as the Replicant Pris from Blade Runner, and Bill (William Lacey) as a Baseball Fury from The Warriors. This group of misfits have set up this party to murder someone as an art project to impress Alexander (Alex Barnett), their wealthy and sinister patron. That their entire plan hinged on someone finding that invite and being dumb enough to show up is a big clue as to how dumb these guys are. Lucky enough for them Chris came along.
Macon keeps Chris distracted while Macon sneaks up behind the poor bastard with an axe, but when the axe gets caught on the pull string of a light bulb, spoiling the surprise attack, which is just the beginning of the incompetence this group will show. The group manage to subdue Chris and tie him to a chair but before any murdering can get started Sky eats some of the pumpkin loaf Chris brought and she has an allergic reaction to the non-organic raisins it contains. She dies and the group quickly stuff her in a fridge so as to not alert their patron to their incompetence. And what is so important about Alexander? Well he apparently has offered up a large grant to someone in the group whose art moves him. How a group murder works into this is never made clear, and when Alexander does arrive each member tries to win him over with their individual art projects while murdering of poor ole Chris kind of gets forgotten. This is for the best as they are very bad at murder. After the death of Sky, which the group blame Chris for, Macon proceeds to dump acid all over Chris. Unfortunately no one explained the difference between Sulphuric Acid and Acetic Acid (vinegar) to these idiots.
When Alexander finally arrives, accompanied by his Russian drug dealer Zycho (Bill Tangradi), we find out that this mysterious patron is just as big pretentious idiot as any of them. After the group fails to impress him with their varied ideas of who to murder Chris he comes up with the idea to play a game of ultimate Truth or Dare that involves each member of the group, excluding Alexander and Zycho, being injected with Sodium Pentothal (truth serum). This was not a good idea as this just brings out their petty insecurities and ends up pitting one against the other, and when the murdering finally gets going only it turns out to be each other and not so much their planned victim.
Murder Party is not your glossy Hollywood movie, this is the kind of thing put together on the basis of offering free beer and pizza to your friends, which could result in something like Birdemic or The Room but luckily here we get fun and charmingling goofy that has enough surprises and nice character moments to warrant the time spent with these idiots. Chris is not your average hero, he starts out like a bit of a hapless loser, and then you start to think he’s going to MacGyver his way out of things, but then it’s really luck and the ineptitude of the killers that keep him alive.
As low budget films go this one is a bit of a treat, and what money they got does show as the gore effects are rather good, so if you go into this film with the right attitude you are most likely going to have a good time.
Murder Party (2007)
This was a fun if unvarnished horror movie that I can easily recommend to fans of the genre, director Jeremy Saulnier shows great promise and I’d like to see what he could pull off given a real budget.