Deathgasm (2015) [Fantasia Film Festival]

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FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL

Horror and metal have gone hand in hand for as long as they both have been around. Many horror movies have metal soundtracks; many metal bands have horror videos. Deathgasm takes this and turns it to 11 as it follows Brodie’s new life after he moves to his aunt and uncle’s house. As Brodie tries to survive at his new school, he makes friends with 2 Dungeons & Dragons players who only get the bullying Brodie receives at the hands of his cousin to become worse. After a period of torment, Brodie finds a music store and there, in the metal section, meets Zakk and the two of them start a metal band and quickly become blood brothers. The duo wanting to have a successful band go looking for the most metal song ever and find it in an old man’s possession which leads to them stealing it and bringing it back to band so they can play it together. However, when they do play it badly with Dion and Giles, instead of getting power and fortune, they awaken a nasty evil and the whole town quickly becomes possessed, except for the quartet and the pretty girl Brodie has his eye on. As the last bastion of humanity, only they can save us all and restore peace in their town. The process is fun and bloody, the film knowing when to amp the comedy and got for full effect.

The writer and director of Deathgasm, Jason Lei Howden, clearly knows the genre he is toying with here, conjuring some scares and plenty laughs while developing believable characters for the cast to work with. His knowledge of the genre and of metal music merges them beautifully and makes even the moments when he pokes fun at either look respectfully. He does not take the viewers for idiots here which leads to a film full of subtle and not so subtle nods at what came before it. Fans of Evil Dead and Brain Dead should be very pleased with what Deathgasm has to offer. The film is Jason Lei Howden’s first feature length effort and his low experience does not show. As opposed to many first time directors, he has clearly honed his craft before getting to this. His film looks and feels like a movie much further down the career path of many horror writer/directors with more titles under their belts. He is definitely one to watch for.

Supporting their talented writer/director is the cast composed of experienced actors Milo Cawthorne (Brodie), Kimberley Crossman (Medina), and relative newcomers James Blake (Zakk), Sam Berkley (Dion), and Daniel Cresswell (Giles) as the core group followed in the story. All put in engaging performances even though their varying ages do make it harder to believe they all are high schoolers or there about in age. Their performances all play off of each other and once would be hard press to guess which one of them is a newcomer and which is more experienced. The group’s interactions and how they fed off each other paired with the material to make it feel like you are indeed watching a group of friends attempting, albeit poorly, to save the world. These are people you end up caring about as we have all known one of each of them in high school: the bad boy metal head, the loner, the hot chick, the inseparable nerds.

As important as the cast in a metal movie is the soundtrack which is appropriately heavy here. There is plenty to listen to in this movie from bands that are real and bands that are made up for the movie such as the made up band from which the title came from and composed of our four lead guys. This band is only starting and they do not sound good at all at first, and then progressively get a little better. They are no Slayer or Pantera, but they have heart and unwittingly release demons on Earth, so horror fans have to love them.

The demon possessions in this movie are quite cool and bloody. The effects crew did not skimp on the bloody and gore clearly. They definitely take cues from the best of what came before them, enjoying the royal messes they are creating, especially as the script pokes fun of said mess in a beheading sequence. It’s easy to tell that everyone involved enjoys a bloody good time and wanted to offer satisfying gore and kills to fans. The sequence in the aunt and uncle’s house is not to be missed as well for the amount of red stuff and the variety and creativity of weapons used. This is one part that had the audience laughing and cheering at the festival, a part to definitively watch with friends who may or may not get offended.

All the blood, gore, metal, and violence one can want in one place. Deathgasm is one of those movies you’ll want to own to run as background during parties.