by Tom Kapr
Wherein I attempt to watch one new-to-me horror film every day of October till Halloween and write a quick review. I will end my review with a letter grade like we do on our podcast (A, B, C, D, or F–pluses and minuses are for the non-committal!) and with the movie’s rank on my Flickchart.
Written & directed by Jason Lei Howden.
“Watch out for my aunt and uncle, because they hate you. And, also, they might be demons.”
Deathgasm started off so strong and had built up so much goodwill early on by focusing on unusual characters I cared about. An underdog metalhead whose story actually had emotional weight. The pretty girl he didn’t have to win over but who was drawn to him. The total anarchist of a best friend. A quirky supporting cast, decent acting and writing. One scene showed our hero in full band makeup sharing an ice cream cone with the girl of his dreams and introducing her to metal. Another scene showed him getting brutally attacked by bullies. These scenes and these character interactions had just the right tone. And actually, if this had just been a film about an awkward metalhead navigating life, it might have been good.
But then without so much as a segue it went into full-on apocalypse mode, to which none of the characters reacted in any way that made sense, and soon it was sacrificing character altogether in favor of tonally out of place jokes that did nothing more than up the gore. When the hero straight up murdered somebody just because the guy was an asshole, the movie lost whatever remaining goodwill I felt toward it. It turned into nothing more than another spatter flick with no sense of character or story. And then it tried to be emotionally resonant again. Too little too late.
So many filmmakers think they can do what Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg did with standard-bearer Shaun of the Dead–make a funny, gory, emotionally resonant film, where the humor is organic to the characters and the situations they find themselves in, and the moments that should horrify us do, and the weight of emotion is there because the characters and relationships, even that of the asshole of the group, are never sacrificed for cheap jokes, and all the disparate elements are weaved together so it all still feels like one tonally consistent film. It’s a hell of a trick to pull off, and most movies that try it, including Deathgasm, fail.
Final grade: D
My Flickchart ranking: #2863(out of 3261, a relative 12/100)