October 29, 2018 Monster Party (Movie Review)
Can a killer ever truly be rehabilitated? Welcome to the brand-new Horror/Thriller offering Monster Party, where it’s all fun and games until someone loses a hand! The blood is ready to splash select theaters, as well as VOD and Digital HD, as of Friday, November 2, 2018, thanks to RLJE Films.
Casper (Sam Strike: EastEnders series, Leatherface 2017), Iris (Virginia Gardner: Project Almanac 2015, Halloween 2018), and Dodge (Brandon Micheal Hall: Search Party series, The Mayor series) are a trio of teen bandits working the suburbs of Los Angeles in search of the perfect heist. Initially, it’s all for adrenaline-laced thrills – that is until Casper’s father (Michael Reilly Burke: Ted Bundy 2002, The Collector 2009) gets himself into $10K worth of debt.
Desperate to save his father from certain death, Casper sees an opportunity for a quick grab at the Malibu mansion where Iris works as a server. Here, the three would-be thieves meet the Dawsons – Roxanne (Robin Tunney: Empire Records 1995, The Craft 1996), Patrick (Julian McMahon: Nip/Tuck series, Fantastic Four 2005), Elliot (Kian Lawley: The Chosen 2015, Before I Fall 2017), and Alexis (Erin Moriarty: Blood Father 2016, Captain Fantastic 2016) – who are not exactly your average family of four.
Suitably, their dinner guests are a menagerie of odd personalities: from the domineering Milo (Lance Reddick: Jonah Hex 2010, John Wick 2014) and his curiously frantic date Becca (Sofía Castro: Teresa series, Along Came Love series), to guitar-playing Ollie (Diego Boneta: Rock of Ages 2012, Before I Fall 2017) and the riley, coke-snorting duo of Jeremy (Jamie Ward: The Rezort 2015, Tyrant series) and Cameron (Chester Rushing: Stranger Things series, Logan 2017).
When the group sit down to dine together, we will quickly learn that they have a lot more in common than initially meets the eye – but what does it all mean for the trio of teens? When the blood hits the bathroom tiles, who will make it out of this desperate fight for survival alive? Clocking in at 89 minutes in-length, Monster Party was written and directed by Chris von Hoffmann (White Trash short 2014, Drifter 2016). It also features Bill Engvall (Delta Farce 2007, The Bill Engvall Show series), Mickey Gooch Jr. (How to Be Single 2016, Deported 2017), and Logan Huffman (V series, Final Girl 2015).
Billed as a Horror-Thriller, Monster Party definitely delivers the goods for its genre: there are plenty of sharp objects (chainsaw, butcher knife, hatchet, sword), a freak in the basement, one Saw nod, and enough blood to splash an entranceway ceiling. Welcome to dinner, folks! Reportedly shot in just 17 days, the film presents itself in all its grotesque beauty as a well-done offering that, while definitely containing flaws, is an overall enjoyable and gory ride.
Monster Party begins strong with a unique premise that builds in tension as our gang of mischievous teens find themselves in over their heads. Unfortunately, while the film is magnificent at building delicious tension, it never quite reaches a suitable peak before the blood paints the floor and someone loses a hand. From there, it devolves into bloody murder for the sake of gratuitous gore – which is still entertaining, but the production loses something that it might have gained otherwise with more attention to plot and detail. Furthermore, the gore is similarly never fully satisfying, as the blood oft looks like Kool Aid stains and several of the close-up kills are so poorly done as to be laughable (read: sausage-link intestines).
However, what Monster Party lacks in attention to its details, it makes up for with a phenomenal ensemble cast. Despite the ridiculousness of many of his scenes, Strike slashes his way (pun very much intended) across the silver screen with ease, while his lovely female cohorts Gardner and Moriarty are equally plucky in their key roles. The trio of Strike, Gardner and Moriarty present the most well-rounded characters of the batch, with widely differing backgrounds, but a common goal that they seek out with panache.
Two of the key stand-outs of the elder talent are Reddick, as the oft wide-eyed Milo, and McMahon, whose Patrick is just looking for a good excuse to spill some red stuff. The pair feed off one another, with Reddick giving a truly fun performance as the overly-intense, would-be guru, looking to proudly rehabilitate his underlings. His dedication to his role is fiery, his gaze is dangerously wide, and he shows a love for his craft that adds a vigor to each of his scenes. Meanwhile, McMahon’s character is initially skeevy toward the single ladies, then conflicted – trying to keep his wife happy but losing grip when the plasma begins to flow. He does a splendid job of negotiating the twists and turns of Patrick and, like Reddick, brings an enthusiasm to his role.
All in all, Monster Party’s myriad parts move together to create a wild and fun ride, which is definitely boosted by its eclectic score – created by Felix Erskine and Nao Sato – that flawlessly blends Rap, EDM, and Classical selections to bring a hip modern feel. In short, Monster Party builds tension beautifully toward a precipice that it never quite reaches before it slides down into a blood-splashing gore-fest that will delight some viewers while disappointing others; it could have been great, but instead it is good. For these reasons, CrypticRock give Monster Party 3.5 of 5 stars.