Killer Party Movie Review
Written by Ilan Sheady
Released by Altitude Films
Written and directed by Chris von Hoffmann
2018, 89 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Released on 27th May 2019
Sam Strike as Casper
Virginia Gardner as Iris
Brandon Micheal Hall as Dodge
Kian Lawley as Elliot Dawson
Erin Moriarty as Alexis Dawson
In order to survive the harsh Miami suburbs, three teenagers rely on robbing houses until they can finally save the money they need to escape the hand they’ve been dealt.
Pregnant Iris (Virginia Gardner) and her boyfriend Dodge (Brandon Michael Hall) struggle to make ends meet with a baby on the way, while third-wheel Casper (Sam Strike) wants to save enough money to have him and his gambling addicted father leave town and start over again.
When Casper’s dad is held hostage until he can pay off the $10,000 he owes, the team decide to pose as caterers and steal from the Dawsons, one of the richest families in town, on the night of a very important social gathering.
But there is more to this gathering than our trio anticipated and the Dawsons have more secrets than the typical family.
On the surface, Killer Party follows the same beats as Fede Alvarez’s Don’t Breathe; petty criminals attempting one last heist regretfully pick the wrong house. Where things become substantially different is in replacing the underprivileged, blind veteran with the sleaze and debauchery of the social elites, a much higher body count and heaps more fun.
Killer Party boasts an appropriately killer cast. Horror fans will appreciate seeing Halloween 2018’s Virginia Gardne rubbing shoulders with Leatherface 2017’s Sam Strike. Roxanne Dawson, the unhinged mother, is played fabulously by the always incredible Robin Tunney (The Craft, Empire Records) and her eccentric husband Patrick Dawson, played by Dr Doom himself: Julian McMahon. To accompany there are fun trope-like performances from Lance Reddick (John Wick) and Kian Lawley (The Chosen), a genuinely unforgettable but brief performance from Logan Huffman (Final Girl) but the surprising breakthrough performance is by Chester Rushing (Jeepers Creepers 3) who transitions from obnoxious, privileged asshole to creepy psychopath way too easily for any normal human being.
Everything is incredibly well shot with a truly impressive set location. The score is great and Director Chris von Hoffmann has a good eye and an entertaining style reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s use of rapid edits, but with more attention to lighting.
Killer Party’s major issues are in its pacing, personality and failed promises. It’s easy to get confused over whether you are watching a horror or a comedy and diluting either option in the process. Robin Tunnecan breaks the 4th wall and delivers a zinger of a comical line to end one scene, but then follows it up in her next with an Oscar-worthy performance by holding back a psychologically damaged flood of tears. More grievously though, characters disappear from the storyline in the blink of an eye without offering anything from the buildup they promise. This comes down to there being more cast members than necessary, preventing opportunities for more development and screen time from those you’d like to see fleshed out.
The biggest disappointment, however, comes from the lack of variety in the female characters. Killer Party feels like a boys' game where the guys get to have all the fun while women have to deal with the emotions of their situation and when push comes to shove, either break down or step aside. In a pop-culture rich world where women have established themselves to be just as capable of being as entertainingly psychotic as the men (Harley Quinn - Suicide Squad, Baby Firefly - The Devil’s Rejects) Killer Party misses out on ample opportunities to create villainesses that would have elevated the movie to cult status and cosplay material.
Disappointments aside Killer Party is a fun watch and beautiful to look at, even if all the pieces on the board suggest there being something more. I would have welcomed anything between an extra 30 minutes of footage to flesh things out, to a 22 episode series rivalling some of the best seasons of American Horror Story. This can only be seen as a compliment, though, and with so much talent showing off their skills in front and behind the camera Killer Party shows that horror films are in good hands.
Victoria de Mare, best known as Batty Boop from the Charles Band Killjoy franchise, has a ‘blink and you’ll miss it moment as a stripper.
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