Imagine, if you will; a parallel universe not too dissimilar from our own. Trump is still president, still no one really knows what the heck is going on in the UK, and Kim Jong Il continues to hoy things into the Sea of Japan. So, for all intents and purposes, this world is as fucked as ours. The only difference is, in this dimension, Exorcist II: The Heretic is the greatest horror film that has ever been made. Nothing better was ever released. It’s a sad state of affairs; a world in which Jordan Peele never dipped his toe into the genre and Wes Craven decided to pursue a career in interior design.
But then, along comes Chris von Hoffman, fresh off an off-Broadway career, with his movie Killer Party, and suddenly Exorcist II is blown clean out of the water.
Unfortunately for von Hoffman, this is Earth 616.
So, why the comparison to Exorcist II? Well, think about how you first felt when you sat down to watch it. That first film was a fucking masterpiece, so by name alone, you had a good feeling about it. Sadly, two very long hours later, you had run the gauntlet of wooden characters, nonsensical storytelling and overall utmost boredom.
And that’s Killer Party.
In name, it conjures up the image of what must surely be a tongue-in-cheek slasher romp; a bunch of teenage crooks plan a heist at what turns out to be the annual meeting of a group of “recovering” serial killers? “Aw, killer party dude!” Some witty dialogue, some clever deaths, a grotesque baby brother in the basement; all the ingredients are there for a bloody good time.
Unfortunately, the script and the direction seem at complete loggerheads, which is odd considering von Hoffman was in charge of both. The writing is great, and in the right hands (Joss Whedon perhaps? Or maybe Eli Craig?) this would have been an awesome little indie flick. Unfortunately, von Hoffman decided to try and make it as brooding and intense as possible, casting a pile of balsawood as the teenage crooks and overlaying the most insipid soundtrack possible, thus creating a film which is just tonally all over the place. Jokes fall flat, deaths lack any shock or humour, and the “twist” ending delivers less punch than an old lady taking on Mike Tyson.
And it’s a real shame, as it’s beautifully shot, and amongst our group of serial killers anonymous, there are some pretty talented performers, from John Wick’s Lance Reddick to the always watchable Logan Huffman.
It’s just really bloody boring.
Killer Party (or Monster Party as it’s known in the States) is a disappointment, and my advice to Mr. von Hoffman is to stick to the typewriter; you’ve got a good little script here, buddy, but maybe get someone with a little more comedic flair to set it to celluloid.
The plus side though? It’s still a darn sight better than The Heretic.
Dir: Chris von Hoffman
Scr: Chris von Hoffman
Prd: Jesse Berger, Eric B. Fleischman, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones
DOP: Tobias Demi
Music: Felix Erskine, Nao Sato
Run time: 89 mins
Killer Party is out now on DVD and blu-ray