Writer/director Chris von Hoffmann follows up his debut feature Drifter with something both similar and different, Monster Party. Similar in that it pits criminals against even worse bad guys. Different in its lavish setting and upscale killers couldn’t be more different from Drifter’s ghost town full of cannibals. Did moving uptown pay off?
Monster Party introduces us to three friends with money problems their day jobs can’t cover. Dodge (Brandon Michael Hall) and Iris (Virginia Gardner, Starfish, Halloween) are about to become parents. Casper (Sam Strike, Leatherface, Nightflyers) has a problem with a parent, his father can’t stay out of debt to the local bookie. They’ve been doing a little burglary to bring in some extra cash, but it’s not enough.
When the chance to make a big score at a party Iris is catering arises they decide to go for it. Robbing the place while everyone is busy dining. Mrs. Dawson (Robin Tunney, The Craft) and her husband Patrick (Julian McMahon, Fantastic Four, Faces In The Crowd) seem a bit odd, and their son Elliot (Kian Lawley, Before I Fall) is downright creepy. But what’s the worst that can happen? The group could be the equivalent of AA for upper-class serial killers, who now need to relapse to protect their secret. That’s what.
The first forty or so minutes of Monster Party are relatively bloodless. We get plenty of time getting to know our leads as well as some sharp commentary about the predatory nature of the financial and social elite. Not that that is a novel concept by this point, Society, American Psycho, and The Cannibal Club among others have covered that territory.
However, once the blood starts flowing much of that is jettisoned for a much more straight forward horror film. The violence is bloody, nasty and plentiful. The deaths are also very unpredictable, with some people meeting their end at very unexpected points. A couple are shockingly unexpected.
There are a couple too many false endings, but Monster Party rallies from them to end on still another unexpected note. It’s rare for a film to surprise me these days, this one did it repeatedly. If the slow start tempts you to bail, don’t. Your patience will be rewarded.
Monster Party has been out for a while from RLJE Films on DVD and VOD. As of April 25th, it will be a Shudder Exclusive.