Casper (Sam Strike) and his friends Iris (Virginia Gardner) and Dodge (Brandon Michael Hall) spend their days trying to earn a living through stealing. Iris and Dodge need money as they have a baby on the way, whereas Casper needs his cash to bail out his gambling addicted father. After Casper’s father ends-up owing the wrong people a ton of money, the trio decide to rip-off the super-rich Dawson family for whom Iris works their private functions. What should be a standard job soon turns south though as the guests at the Dawson’s party all share the same deadly secret; they are all reformed murderers. With their deception uncovered, the trio are thrust into a dangerous game of kill or be killed. Can any of them make it to morning?
On paper, Killer Party (formerly Monster Party) sounds very much like both The Collector and Don’t Breathe. Both films also featured criminals as the protagonists, criminals whom got more than they bargained for on what should be an easy job. Killer Party may tap into this same basic premise, but it is a very different type of film. The Collector (which now has an upcoming second sequel) played into the style of Saw, the house picked for robbery being turned into one giant booby trap. It was filled with blood, gore and stomach churning moments. Killer Party has its fair share of bloody moments, but none match the spectacle of The Collector. In Don’t Breathe it was the drawn-out silences and brutal tension that hooked viewers; Killer Party forgoes tension in favour of creating something more fun. Director Chris von Hoffmann taps into the black comedy vein, taking the film out of any grounded toe-curling reality, to something more heightened and over-the-top. It ends-up being more in-line with something like The Tournament as years of hostility between the killer friends ratchets ever higher as their ‘sobriety’ crumbles.
With other similar films being so easily identifiable, Killer Party really struggles to stand on its own two feet. Yes it might go down a different path to its spiritual siblings, but comparisons are hard to ignore, and there’s just something missing during the viewing experience. It might be that the characters aren’t particularly fleshed out, or the fact that it’s not hugely obvious who are meant to be our main characters, but the film suffers from a real disconnect. As the inevitable violence unfurls, it’s a struggle to really care about many of the characters, the result is a series of deaths that leave the viewer numb.
Killer Party‘s strength lies within its casting choices. The cast is made up of a mixture of pre-established familiar faces including Lance Reddick (John Wick), Robin Tunney (The Craft), and Julian McMahon (Fantastic Four), as well as new faces on the rise such as Virginia Gardner (Starfish), Diego Boneta (Terminator: Dark Fate) and Erin Moriarty (The Boys). This blend of new and old is likely to serve the film well; fans will seek the film out to reconnect with their favourite actor, whilst at the same time being introduced to some new talent.
A familiar story with not enough individuality to stand apart from its superiors, Killer Party is at best a throwaway film, one that won’t stick in memory for long.
Killer Party is available on Digital download and DVD from Monday 27th May 2019.