Director: Chris von Hoffman
Screenplay: Chris von Hoffman
Starring:Robin Tunney, Julian McMahon, Lance Reddick, Sam Strike
Killer Party follows three teenagers – Iris (Virginia Gardner), Dodge (Brandon Michael Hall) and Casper (Sam Strike) – who make money by committing petty house burglaries. However, when Casper learns that his father owes thousands of dollars to a local gangster, he convinces his friends that they have to go big time and make the mother of all scores. Iris and Dodge, who want to settle down and raise their unborn child, agree to Casper’s plan of robbing the family for which Iris works as a servant. Unfortunately for the thieves, the Dawsons – Patrick (Julian McMahon), Roxanne (Robin Tunney), Elliot (Kian Lawley) and Alexis (Erin Moriarty) – aren’t the normal rich family they appear to be.
The Dawsons are hosting a dinner party for their oddball collection of friends – spoilt rich brats Cameron (Chester Rushing) and Jeremy (Jamie Ward), wannabe rock god Ollie (Diego Boneta), and imposing Milo (Lance Reddick) with his date Beca (Sofía Castro). While the party goers are enjoying their celebrations, the thieves search for a safe, but the security proves to be too advanced for Dodge and Casper and they trip the house’s alarms. With everyone trapped inside, the Dawsons reveal their true nature and it quickly becomes clear that Casper and his friends must fight to escape with their lives.
Killer Party features a stellar cast led by Robin Tunney (The Craft) and Julian McMahon (Nip/Tuck) as the hosts of this unconventional dinner party. Lance Reddick (John Wick) delivers the standout performance as the commanding but sinister, Milo who in his own unorthodox way attempts to take control of the increasingly spiralling out of control events.
Kian Lawley is menacing as the son of the family while Erin Moriarty displays strong screen presence as his sister, Alexis. The ensemble cast work well together, complementing each other in a way which is usually lacking in modestly budgeted genre films such as this.
Writer/director, Chris von Hoffman, develops a tongue-in-cheek tone throughout the film, whilst providing plenty of onscreen claret to keep the gore hounds more than satisfied. He expertly balances the horror alongside the black comedy that delivers a film that will interest most fans of the genre. Hoffman’s strength is in keeping a taunt level of suspense throughout, which keeps the audience moving along, unsure which direction the narrative will move in next.
There’s a manic energy to Killer Party that keeps it highly watchable, the camera constantly moving not wishing to settle in one place for too long. In the hands of a lesser director this would be nauseating, but von Hoffman’s use of the kinetic keeps the viewer on edge unsure of what comes next.
Killer Party is a strong second feature for von Hoffman, but its low budget does occasionally hamper it. Cinematographer Tobias Deml’s work is often under lit giving some scenes a cheap, almost amateurish feel. Likewise, the special effects at times leave a little to be desired, with severed body parts looking on the wrong side of rubbery. It is clear that the majority of the budget was wisely spent on assembling a strong cast, with a few recognisable names to help sell the film.
In summary, Killer Party is a fun horror/thriller with a lot of pay off. The film is over the top at times, but never to the detriment of the story it tells. There is a lot to enjoy in the film, and it is the perfect Saturday night viewing with friends, beers and some munchies. Von Hoffman is definitely one to watch in the future, hopefully with someone giving him a larger budget to play with.
Killer Party is released on DVD and Blu-ray by Altitude Film Entertainment.