Buckle up, readers. The party movie of 2015 is here.
The brainchild of visual effects artist/madman Jason Lei Howden, Deathgasm is a riotous little film that takes the satanic myths of heavy metal that parents worry about and brings them to life for 90 minutes of mayhem. If you’ve seen the trailer and stills, then you already know what to expect. Deathgasm does not disappoint in that regard and doesn’t pretend to be anything besides a vividly violent blast (death to false metal, as they say). Aside from a superfluous romantic betrayal subplot during the second act, the film is a relentless audio/visual assault to hell and back.
Milo Cawthorne (who I adored in Blood Punch) stars as Brodie, a young metalhead who moves in with his aunt and uncle in a conservative suburb after the death of his mom. His only refuge from the Stepford landscape is Zakk (James Blake), a fellow hesher who shows him the ropes around town. Along with two outcast RPG kids from school they form the titular band and together they summon an ancient evil that threatens to consume every soul in the burbs. Their quest to fight back the evil is aided by Medina (Kimberley Crossman), an axe-wielding metal convert that tests Brodie and Zakk’s loyalty to each other.
Like I mentioned, the romantic subplot feels totally unnecessary and drags the second act down a bit. When demon spirits are consuming everyone in the neighborhood, this isn’t the time to flip-flop sides for a girl. Thankfully, this piece of plot is nothing but a side note, leaving the narrative more time to focus on important things like ripping apart a demon’s face with a barb-wire laced weed-whacker. It’s glorious stuff, man.
Moving the exposition along is Brodie’s narration, which is playfully mixed with animation and fantasy sequences that resemble awesome metal album covers (swords, ocean-side mountain tops, scantily clad women, you get the gist). He’s quite the artist too – within the first five minutes we get to see his rendition of what a “Cock Lord” looks like (nothing like me). As far as the metal references, I’m not gonna pretend I got them all, so it’s up to real metalheads to dispel credibility on the film. It did look like the production designer was a big Trivium fan though (heroes down here in Orlando).
It would’ve been easy for Deathgasm to simply serve as a fanboy/metal nerd handjob film and be reduced to a series of winks and nods. There’s 12-sided die guns, dive bomb riffs during money shots, and a brutally subtle jab at Poison. Skillfully, none of this feels forced. All the metal and nerdy shit in the film feels natural to the characters and the gleefully ridiculous plot. I guarantee this is the only film you’ll see this year where a bespectacled dork corrects someone on the plural form of 12-sided die and you don’t want to roll your eyes.
Deathgasm is a wicked low budget film, but it’s clear every single last cent is on screen. Practical effects are front and center and they look wicked good. The effects crew didn’t reinvent the wheel, but they obviously had a good time bloodying up time honored traditions like gaping eye sockets and seriously wild blood splatter. And slo-mo double-sided dildo fights, of course.
This is the movie the SXSW Midnighters category was created for. The type of movie people put on when the weekend finally comes and their friends head over, crack a stupid amount of beers, and cheer and laugh their faces off until the neighbors complain. I could go on about how awesome the cast is and how wicked the photography looks, but it would be pointless in hindsight of Zakk hurricane chainsawing the hell out of demons. Just get ready to party.