It’s a Disaster (Murder Party, 2007)

murder_party_posterMurder Party takes what could could be a very serious horror movie concept and instead opts to go the road of comedy.  Christopher is a loner who lives a quiet life of habit.  He receives a mysterious invite to a Halloween party.  He makes a knight costume out of cardboard and duct tape and heads off. Finding the remote warehouse location, he finds a odd group.  It turns out they are throwing a special party.  He is quickly thrown into a room, as it turns out that Halloween party is for serial killers.  And Christopher is meant to be one of their victims.

As I said, it is a straight up horror concept.  But director Jeremy Saulnier goes for the dark humor.  The film is full of little moments (such as Christopher riding the subway while a guy fires off a rap in his face) or when one of the killers acts all badass and when he thinks he has hurt Christopher and like kid, freaks out and starts apologizing.  The film takes a turn when Christopher musters the courage to fight back and try and escape.  The chases that ensue are comical.

The visual queues are a lot of fun.  All the serial killers are dressed like characters from other films.  For example, one kid is dressed like a member of the Baseball Furies from the Warriors, another as Daryl Hannah’s character from Blade Runner.

It is kind of interesting to compare this with his later works, the brutal and intense Blue Ruin and Green Room.  This is, by comparison, a light-hearted film.  It is also a lower budget (according to someone on the IMDB, it was made for no money at all).  But Saulnier was skilled enough even in his debut to make a film that looks like he had more money than he did.

Murder Party is a weird and funny film, good for some laughs this Halloween.

Blue Is the New Blood Red (Blue Ruin, 2013)

blue_ruin_posterDirector Jeremy Saulnier creates a savage tale of revenge and the downward spiral it creates with Blue Ruin.  Blue Ruin begins with Dwight being freed from prison.  Her returns to his childhood home and estranged family.  He is there for revenge, but when his attempts as an assassin go a bit awry, it all escalates.

This is a slow burn film.  Dwight’s attempts at revenge lead to himself being hurt and his family being put in danger.  Dwight is played with quiet intensity by Macon Blair.  The film is bleak, with a tragic ending.

This is a well shot meditation on revenge.  The theme seems to be that revenge will eat away and destroy people.  Dwight is a bit inept as a killer, but he is also ultimately successful, but at the expense of his humanity.  Saulnier is a skilled storyteller and Blue Ruin is a challenging watch.  The road of vengeance is the path of self destruction and Dwight lives that out to the bitter end.

Green Room Serenade (Green Room, 2016)

Green_Room_PosterGreen Room is one of Anton Yelchin’s final films.  The story is simple.  Pat and his friends are in a punk band.  When their show falls through, they get a new gig in a remote club.  They discover it is a Neo-Nazi bar.  When they stumble upon a terrible crime, it is a fight for survival.

Once things start, the film is unrelentingly intense as the band fights for survival, along with a young woman who may or may not be on there side.  The film is full of surprises and the performances are great. Yelchin’s performance as Pat (who starts out a quiet and peaceable young man then forced to fight) is solidly sympathetic.  The absolute stand out is Patrick Stewart.  As the head of the Neo-Nazi group, Darcy, he is unnervingly menacing.  I am used to the kindly and wise characters Stewart has played for over two decades.  None of that is here.  He is cruel, manipulative and lethally skilled.

Imogen Poot’s plays Amber as a mystery.  Is she trying to help the band, or is she actually devoted to Darcy and his crew?

The film takes many twists and turns, constantly giving you hope for success only to have it taken away in a shocking moment.  Writer/Director Jeremy Saulnier shows a real understanding for creating tension.  His first feature film, Murder Party was an amusing horror/comedy about a lonely guy invited to a costume party that turns out to be a a group of psychopaths who invite people to hunt and kill.  Using a similar premise of innocents trapped by psychopaths, he trades in humor for intensity.

Green Room is a tense and exciting thriller that keeps the viewer engaged right up to the end.

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