Deathgasm review: Features great narration and inventive editing techniques that also add to the laughs.
Director: Jason Lei Howden
Cast: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman, Sam
Berkley, Dabiel Cresswell
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Synopsis: A recently formed band, Deathgasm, come across sheet music that offers the user the Ultimate Power, but also summons evil.
New Zealand once again lay claim to the horror comedy franchise with Deathgasm, a celebration of all things metal, demonic, and Peter Jackson inspired low budget gruesomeness. First time director Jason Lei Howden has already worked on some of the world’s biggest films in the visual effects departments, but here he shows a great aptitude for developing characters, comedic timing, and exciting sequences.
Brodie (Cawthorne) has just been relocated to a small backwater town after his crack addict mother attempts to perform oral sex on a mall Santa, thus leaving her sectioned. A big fan of metal, Brodie finds it hard to integrate with society, but soon finds a friend in town rebel Zakk (Blake), as well as two D&D nerds, Dion (Berkly) and Giles (Cresswell), as well as interesting local unobtainable girl, Medina (Crossman). The guys soon set about forming a band, but once they come across some ancient sheet music it looks as though they will be summoning demons to their quaint little town.
The plot is very rooted in the fantasies of a young outsider, as Brodie is gradually set up to be the hero we know he can be. Even if his method and motives are a little questionable at times. Most impressive is the heart Howden enthuses throughout. We absolutely feel the plight of Brodie, with certain bullying scenes really hitting a nerve. The outside gang aren’t exactly a complete get away from troubles with real life either, as Zakk soon shows himself to a be a self destructive and friendship sabotaging jerk, but only as he’s afraid of losing those close to him. Brodie might be bringing about the end of the world, but at least we can connect with his desire for a little bit of power.
With the heart firmly in place, there’s also the incredible visual comedy. Some moments are just shocking, others are quick gags, but best of all are the sections that work as punchlines. It takes great confidence to allow the images themselves to be the comedians, as it relies on the audience to pay attention. That’s not to say that the cast don’t get some chortle worthy dialogue and one liners too. I sense there may be a quotable cult classic in the making where Deathgasm is concerned.
The music is perfect for the film, gathering the darkness required but not afraid of a bit of pastiche towards to both the genre of music and the genre of film. It’s something that has been assembled by a true fan, unlike many films that try and represent metal fans only to have them lesson to lesser but more marketable groups in the genre.
With great scraps and demon disposal all brought to life by gorylicious practical effects (some left over from the Evil Dead remake), Deathgasm may have soul, but it also knows when a lack of conscience aids humour. Some great narration, inventive editing techniques that also add to the laughs, and a genuine need and desire to give us fun and slap us about with it, all equals a metaltastic enjoyable celebration of horror and metal, two very well suited bedfellows.
Deathgasm review by Luke Ryan Baldock, August 2015.
Deathgasm was screened at Frightfest 2015.