MONSTER PARTY INVITES YOU TO A NIGHT OF THRILLS, CHILLS AND UNSETTLING ADDICTION
All of us have an addiction. You’re not alone. Human beings are prone to it. Our addictions vary, whether it be drugs, alcohol, sex, pay to play phone apps, and yes, even horror movies, we all have that something that we can’t resist. But what if that something was cold blooded murder? Then you might find yourself invited to the Monster Party.
Written/directed by Chris von Hoffman (Drifter), Monster Party sees a trio of teenage thieves, all desperate for cash, who decide to go after their biggest target yet and infiltrate a mansion dinner party for the social elite. But when the team discovers that the party is in fact hosted by a group of psychotic serial killers who aren’t too happy about being stolen from, they find themselves in a fight for survival which forces them to confront the inner monster dormant inside them.
The first thing you’ll notice about Monster Party is just how damn gorgeous it is. Hoffman and cinematographer Tobias Demi paint a serene picture of beautiful landscapes and brilliant colors with shots that could be taken straight out of a film like Pleasantville. Hoffman wants the audience to get the sense that on the outside, the residence where our killers live is a place of artistic perfection, and the sort of home that the rest of us lowlifes can only dream about. You could lose yourself in the picturesque imagery, it’s that bright and perfect. This works in stark contrast to the way in which the interiors are shot, both at the house and in other locations such as a strip club, all of which are dimly lit and full of shadowy secrets. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but I would guess that this is intentionally done as a representation of the “monsters” being celebrated at the party, since all are beautiful people who seemingly have everything on the outside, but on the inside, are soulless creatures lurking in the dark, vacant of anything we’d call “beautiful”. So, while the mansion may look magnificent on the outside, internally, its infested by ugliness and depravity.
Similar to films like Don’t Breathe or The Collector, Hoffman’s script gives us three main characters who all have a damn good reason for stealing, since we need a reason to root for a bunch of criminals. Iris (Virginia Gardner) and Dodge (Brandon Micheal Hall) are both young, expectant parents to be, while Casper (Sam Strike) needs ten grand to pay off his dad’s gambling debts, or be forced to watch him die (the whole reason they decide to go after the mansion in the first place). Sure, these motivations are pretty by the book, but they work, and all three characters are charming enough to have us praying they get out of this alive. They’re far from the assholes you might expect. We don’t really get to know much about these people outside of their basic needs, which is a shame, but the trio faces such horrific abuse and torture at the hands of our villains, that you’ll be cheering for more with every gallon of blood they manage to spill from these bastard’s bellies.
On the other side of the equation are our monsters. From the minute our heroes enter the mansion, something seems uncomfortably off about the Dawson family. No, that’s an understatement. Something seems really fucking off about the Dawson family. Patrick (Julian McMahon) practically oozes wife beater, Elliot (Kian Lawley) is the epitome of every serial rapist punk out there, and Roxanne (Robin Tunney) is about two seconds away from going psycho mom, packing everyone in the car, and driving off a damn cliff. Alexis (Erin Moriarty) is the only semi-normal one, but even she has a quiet, uneasy reservation about her. And then there’s the leader of this killer club, Milo (Lance Reddick), who has such a powerful presence that even an angry look can make viewers want to wet their pants. This cast, along with a few other maniacs, is exceptional at playing crazy. You could even say some are a little too on the nose with it, but Hoffman isn’t exactly trying to hide what these people are. What’s so interesting is how killing is treated as an addiction which they are all trying to kick, leading to a lot of tight-lipped struggles as they try to resist the urge, and making for quite a horrific experience when that resistant bubble finally bursts like a bloody balloon, courtesy of Pennywise the clown.
Like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, these villains are attempting to hide their more monstrous sides underneath a mask of polite sophistication. Hoffman balances the pacing of Monster Party perfectly, taking his time to make the audience as anxious as possible with hints at what’s going on here, such as Roxanne’s story of finding a homeless man on the side of the street and doing nothing, as if that’s some sort of accomplishment, before finally releasing that tension with a terrifying explosion of violence and gore. From there, Monster Party becomes a wild, pulse-pounding celebration dancing to the beat of raw carnage and bloodshed. When our killers finally snap, they are addicts fiending for that next quick fix. And like drug-crazed addicts, any semblance of their bullshit “high class” personas are washed away as they resort to their purest animal instincts. Our villains, in particular Patrick, become frightening, ravenous animals, setting the stage for what is ultimately a brutal, unforgiving battle to stay alive.
Hoffman’s film does not disappoint in regards to the blood-soaked chaos. Gore rains down like confetti throughout Monster Party once the action gets going. It’s almost shocking how suddenly the film flips the switch from calm and strange to chaotic and bloody as hell. There will be times where you won’t know whether to cheer or scream, but you’ll have a damn good time doing it either way, because like any good party, Monster Party delivers on all fronts when it comes to the horror of it all. This is pure, shocking entertainment at its best.
But Monster Party is more than just an entertaining rollercoaster through a flood of blood and chainsaw wielding maniacs. As I’ve been saying all along, this is first and foremost a meaningful film about addiction, how hard it can be to overcome it, and the price we pay for relapsing. Most of our villains want to live a “clean” life, and are proud to say they have for so many years, which is just part of what makes them so fascinating and uncomfortably relatable. So, it’s all the more horrible to see what happens when that determination to remain “sober” breaks. Even more chilling is the film’s final message on addiction of any sort. Monster Party ends with one hell of a bang, but it leaves us with the unsettling realization that when it comes to addiction, all it takes is one taste to make us an uncontrollable addict.
Invitation or not, don’t wait any longer. Crash the Monster Party for a night of insanity, fun, and enough blood to fill the pool out back. Just remember to watch responsibly.