There is nothing worse than horror movies that spend too much time setting up the premise. You already know these kids will be fighting for their lives, so having to watch 30 minutes of them debating whether to go to the mansion with the creepy people can be annoying if you don’t care about the characters. Monster Party suffers from this exact problem, as we spend too much time setting up annoying and unlikeable characters and we skip over much of the gory fun.
We are introduced to a trio of robbers who target rich homes in Southern California. There’s Iris (Virginia Gardner), who is pregnant with the child of Dodge (Brandon Micheal Hall), and Casper (Sam Strike) whose dad has a gambling problem. That is it. Director Chris von Hoffmann wants us to care for these kids, yet the above information is the only thing we get to know about these characters we are supposed to sympathize with.
In one of the many similarities to Don’t Breathe, one of our robbers is forced to go on one last job to escape a terrible situation at home. Casper must now come up with a big amount of cash to pay some dangerous thugs who are threatening his dad. Luckily for him, Iris is scheduled to work as a server at a dinner party for a filthy rich family. Of course, they will get more than they bargained for.
The trailer and even the film’s synopsis are quick to spoil what’s going on with the dinner party guests, but just in case I will not say anything about it. Suffice to say, blood will be shed, and our young robbers will have to fight their way out of the house.
The performances are solid. Gardner, in particular, makes for a good old-fashioned horror heroine, and Lance Reddick manages to be menacing while also a comforting and calming presence. The main trio has some scenes with great chemistry, and you can see the fear in their eyes once everything starts going down.
The biggest gripe with the film is its lack of resources, which become too apparent once the bloodshed begins. The film’s glacial pace wouldn’t be a big problem if the characters were interesting – they are not – or if the film had some fun and inventive kills. Unfortunately, after waiting for more than 40 minutes for the “monster” part of the title to begin, the film’s budget restriction kicks in.
While von Hoffmann doesn’t shy away from blood splatter, all the deaths happen off-camera, either cutting away to someone else’s reaction, or just moving the camera to another room of the house and hear a faint scream before moving on. This wouldn’t be a problem if the film found a way around it, or if it was intentional, but it is easy to see the only reason for it was the lack of a bigger budget.
Monster Party has a morbid energy that keeps you interested despite all of its problems. Unfortunately, this is a horror film without interesting characters or satisfying kills which makes for a very dull experience. Do not accept this party invitation.
Monster Party is now on VOD platforms from RLJE.