The Movie Waffler IFI Horrorthon 2015 Review - <i>DEATHGASM</i> | The Movie Waffler

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IFI Horrorthon 2015 Review - DEATHGASM

Heavy Metal loving teens unwittingly unleash a horde of demons on their small town.


Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Jason Lei Howden

Starring: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman, Sam Berkley


"Deathgasm has a killer title and intriguing concept, but fails to deliver anything beyond the cheapest of laughs and gore sequences that are all too derivative of better, earlier genre entries."





Heavy Metal and horror movies have been inextricably linked since the birth of that musical genre. Metal album sleeves feature the sort of artwork you might expect to find on old VHS horror movie covers, and the genre's lyrics often explore the sort of dark themes you found in a Hammer production. And then there's the fanbases; both fans of Metal and horror are considered "a bit weird" by so-called normies, embracing and finding solace in the sort of imagery that repulses most casual listeners and viewers.
That's the case with Brodie (Milo Cawthorne), the beleaguered teenage protagonist of horror comedy Deathgasm. He lives in a New Zealand hick town with his religious Aunt and Uncle, and his bullying jock cousin. His only friends are Dion (Sam Berkley) and Giles (Daniel Cresswell), a pair of socially malfunctioning Dungeons & Dragons obsessives with whom he forms a heavy metal band - Deathgasm. Brodie's dull life peps up when he meets Zakk (James Blake), the cooler-than-cool Fonz of the local metal scene. Zakk talks him into breaking into a house occupied by Rikki Daggers (Stephen Ure), a one-time metal legend who has gone into hiding, on the run from a Satanic cult. When a member of said cult shows up to kill Daggers, Zakk and Brodie flee the scene with some of Daggers' sheet music. Later, as the lads jam out the notes in Brodie's garage, the music has a decidedly odd effect, turning a large portion of the townsfolk into bloodthirsty demons.
New Zealand has become synonymous with a particular brand of horror-comedy, beginning with the early low budget productions of Peter Jackson (Bad Taste, Brain Dead), and flourishing in recent years. In 2015 we've seen the acclaimed vampire satire What We Do In the Shadows and the equally lauded Housebound. Now comes Deathgasm, which unfortunately has more in common with the 2006 Kiwi misfire Black Sheep. As with that movie, Deathgasm has a killer title and intriguing concept, but fails to deliver anything beyond the cheapest of laughs (a slo-mo fight involving a dildo is a lot less funny than the filmmakers seem to believe) and gore sequences that are all too derivative of better, earlier genre entries.
The movie is ironically at its best before the arrival of its horror element, when we're given a glimpse into the lives of Brodie and his nerdy friends. This early portion makes for a charming look at the lives of outsider teens in a cultural backwater. Once the demons arrive, the film is all too content to devolve into a third rate Night of the Creeps ripoff, complete with hot girl turns demon killer extraordinaire 'twist'. This sort of filmmaking was fresh and innovative in the 1980s, when Fred Dekker and Sam Raimi were at the top of their game, but in the year that's spoiled us with It Follows, Spring and The Visit, horror has moved on from the dubious thrills of Deathgasm and its ilk.