I am fond of writer-director-cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier’s 2013 revenge flick Blue Ruin (Thoughts on Blue Ruin). The plot is dark, the violence merciless and the conclusion inevitable, but the quiet, deliberate pace, the performance by lead Macon Blair and the overall craftsmanship of Saulnier combined to create a powerful if somber film.
After seeing Blue Ruin, I was eager to see what else Saulnier had done. Most of his credits are for cinematography, but he did direct one other film, his debut, Murder Party.
Talk about film-viewing whiplash. On the one hand, Blue Ruin gains its power from the quiet and the contemplative. It is open, with space for the viewer to meditate on what’s happening. On the other hand, Murder Party has a guy wearing a werewolf Halloween costume who accidentally sets himself on fire while smoking a cigarette.
I really enjoyed Murder Party. Is it a great film? No, but watching a bunch of pretentious, dipshit art students completely fail in the simple task of murdering a man who practically volunteers to be the victim is a hoot. From the homages to other films – the art students are dressed as a zombie, the aforementioned werewolf, a vampire, a replicant from Blade Runner and member of the baseball gang from The Warriors – to the complete absurdity of the deaths of most of said artists, Murder Party builds relentlessly to a completely over-the-top ending. It’s also an example of great low-budget filmmaking, maximizing humor, personalities and the ridiculous elements of the unfolding events, and minimizing the lack of money available for FX.
If Army of Darkness and Shaun of the Dead are your kind of thing, check out Murder Party. Bask in its bloody foolishness.