Jeremy Saulnier has managed to become one of the most original voices in indie cinema for the last eleven years, and “Murder Party” is an off beat debut that twists conventions left and right. Knowing Jeremy Saulnier as we do now, “Murder Party” is typical Saulnier, as he’s prone to trying to make a statement with every film he makes. Every time you think “Murder Party” is heading one way, Saulnier is a lot more content with delivering the unexpected, and I quite enjoyed what he had to offer here. Like most debuts, “Murder Party” is rough around the edges but it’s offbeat horror fun.
Christopher is a lonely man who decides to spend Halloween night alone with a few horror rentals and his favorite candy. When he accidentally finds an invitation for a top secret “murder party,” he decides to take the initiative. Expecting a Halloween costume party, he constructs a makeshift costume of cardboard knight armor, but is horrified when he learns the party is an actual murder party. Thrown by a group of bohemians, they plan to murder Christopher for the sake of their art. A mix of “Waiting for Guffman,” “After Hours,” and “Saw,” Christopher has to figure a way out, all the while the bohemians await their financier, and begin plotting a grisly murder.
“Murder Party” is much more a satire on modern art more than it is a horror comedy. Saulnier has a lot to say about modern and experimental art, as he depicts many of its patrons as blowhards, morons, and amoral losers. When we view the slime that plan to murder Christopher, suddenly he’s not such a loser anymore. Christopher’s journey also becomes one of self realization where he also figures out that his life isn’t so bad when compared to the endless nightmare of being in these people’s company. So anxious are they for artistic gratification that they reduce themselves to hideous lows. Along the way Christopher does his best to figure a way out of his jam, and Saulnier has a great time undercutting our expectations. One scene in particular involves Christopher stuck in a supply closet filled with resources, only for it go nowhere.
I laughed a lot with the absurdist, often off the wall comedy. Saulnier has a twisted and demented sense of humor, and a lot of the gags range from cringe inducing, to downright hysterical. The entire cast is top notch, including Chris Sharp, as a man who is pushed in to such a weird, extraordinary situation and has no idea how to exactly approach it. The psychos introduced are very much maniacal, but also prone to incredible stupidity, allowing for Saulnier to have a great time with typical horror gags, including chainsaws, axes, and the general sub-genre of survival horror. “Murder Party” is a weird, insane, but great horror comedy, and one that will definitely fill the appetites of someone in the mood for something completely different.