Directed by: Jason Lei Howden
Starring: Milo Cawthorn, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman, Delaney Tabron, Colin Moy
Following the tragic death of his parents, teenager Brodie is sent to live with his uncle Albert and Aunt Mary. Brodie, a heavy metal fanatic, struggles to fit in in his new hometown until he meets fellow metal-head, Zakk. When Zakk convinces Brodie to break into a seemingly abandoned house, they discover some sheet music which may have been written by the devil himself, and when they play it, the pair unwittingly open a portal for a demonic entity known as The Blind One to enter our realm….
Deathgasm is an almost perfect blend of Heavy Metal, horror and comedy, and carries the spirit of other classic New Zealand films such as The Devil Dared Me and Housebound.
The film takes an interesting standpoint with regards to the themes of Death and Satanism within the heavy metal genre. On the one hand, it argues that the music and lyrics allow for a cathartic outlet of darker teenage emotions (in this regard it is similar to the film Some Kind of Hate). It’s fascinating, for example to see how the music effects Medina (Kimberly Crossman), the first time she listens to it. It completely empowers her. The film also points out the hypocracy of certain elements of society taking a moral highground – uncle Albert, for example is a God-Fearing, bible thumping puritan, bur as we learn later he’s got his own issues which he’s tried to hide from the public.
However there is also a strong impression that the teen’s interest in satanism and dark magic are leading them into areas they should definitely not be meddling with. None of what happens in the film would not have occurred if Brodie and Zakk hadn’t been so enticed to dabble with the devil’s work.
There is some great visual humour, such as the reaction of uncle Albert, aunt Mary and cousin David when they first see Brodie, in full metal garb including white facepaint. Or the moment when Brodie meets Zakk for the first time as they browse through the Metal section of the local record shop (every metal fan will get a good laugh out of that one). My favourite gag though is when Zakk is caught syphoning petrol…
There is a lot of carnage in this film, with the local townsfolk being possessed by demons and running amok. The gore fx are really good with some really nasty but kind-of-funny kill scenes (a man gets his exposed genitals mangled by a strimmer, for example) – it’s the kind of thing that will make you wince and laugh at the same time.
There are some great character beats throughout. Brodie and Medina’s relationship is a strong point, as is the more complex relationship between Brodie and Zakk, two lonely souls who found each other and are unwilling to let go no matter how destructive their relationship might actually be. There is also strong comedic support from Sam Berkley and Daniel Cresswell, who play Dion's other, more nerdy friends.
The special fx work is very good, lots of blood and gore gets thrown around the screen. There are some gruesome kill scenes along the way, reminiscent of Peter Jackson's Braindead - for example, one poor possessed guy gets his exposed genitals mutilated by a lawn strimmer. Its bound to get people wincing and laughing in equal manner.
Metal-heads will appreciate this horror send-up of their genre of music. It doesn't feel contrived at all and there is a genuine love for the music and the culture of metal. It's also damn funny with some great sight gags and character moments, It's gruesome but great fun, and highly recommended.
8 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)