Thursday, November 1, 2007

Murder Party (2007)

If I had to describe Murder Party in one word, it would have to be…disappointing. Perhaps I was expecting to much – I heard all the hype making Murder Party sound like a mix of the quirky Napoleon Dynamite and the Roger Corman art satire film Bucket of Blood, I was expecting a funny, weird, whip-smart and viciously satirical film. Instead, I got this dull movie with only one running joke that failed to entertain or amuse.

A nebbish, middle-aged man finds an invitation to a “Murder Party” on the sidewalk. Having no plans except to stay home and watch movies with his cat, he comes up with an impromptu knight costume made out of silver masking tape and cardboard, bakes a pumpkin loaf, and is on his way to the mysterious party. After taking the subway to the far side of the city and walking quite a ways, he finally finds the “party,” which is little more than a few artists sitting around doing drugs. Pretty soon he is tied up in a chair and finds out that they intend to murder him for their “art.” As the night drags on, the artists try and figure out the most artistically shocking way of killing him and which medium is best for capturing his last moments.

The sad thing is, I was really looking forward to this film, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to the hype that has built up around it since its Slamdance Film Festival premiere. Director and writer Jeffery Saulnier had a great idea to satirize the art scene, but the, ahem, execution is poorly done. The film is a one-trick pony that sucks everything it can out of the joke anything can be art. Sure, the concept of the film is clever and quirky, but the actual film is anything but.

The characters are very poorly developed, and the supposed “hero” of the piece, the nerdy man we meet at the beginning, spends the majority of the film gagged and tied to a chair as he watches the artists argue, lust after each other, do drugs, dance and try to impress a potential grant donor. It sounds like much more fun than it actually IS, because we don’t care about any of the characters and quickly get bored with what little they do.

The dialogue, jokes and gags get old fast, too, and I couldn’t help but look at the clock every two seconds to see when the movie would be over. Some of you might bitch and moan and point fingers saying I didn’t pick up on the subtleties of the extremely dry humor, but to you I say…I tried to pick up on ANYTHNG funny, but it just WASN’T there. How this movie got so many positive reviews is beyond me. It’s like the critics were so in love with the concept of the film that they overlooked just how bad the ACTUAL film was.

After we endure ¾ of the film where the artists share their deepest, darkest secrets, hide the body of one of their friends who accidentally dies, do copious amounts of coke, screw, bop around and finally turn on each other, our “hero” escapes and runs from one of the artists who has suddenly snapped and turned into a killer. They end up at another (much larger) artists’ party where the killer massacres a group, only for the rest of the partygoers to think it is art. Ah, how ironic and clever! This is by far the best scene in the film (also because it means the movie is almost over), however obvious it might be.

Murder Party was a great concept for a film, but unfortunately the concept wasn’t expanded upon enough to fill an entire feature film. Instead of a quirky, clever horror-comedy, Murder Party becomes monotonous and trite. If you’re looking for a horror flick that satirizes the pompous artist community, I’d stick with Roger Corman’s Bucket of Blood from 1959.

Available from Amazon!

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