Desperate times call for desperate measures. With his father owing thousands to a violent loan shark, Casper (Sam strike) and his fellow thief friends Dodge (Brandon Michael Hall) and Iris (Virginia Gardner) need to make a big score. Opportunity strikes when Iris scores a job catering a rich family’s mansion in Malibu. The Dawson Family, including patriarch, Patrick (Julian McMahon), matriarch Alexis (Erin Moriarty), son Elliot (Kian Lawley), and daughter Roxanne (Robin Tunney) seem friendly, if a bit snobbish and quirky. They’re having a celebration with some other aristocrats led by Milo (Lance Reddick) in celebrating their sobriety. But not from drugs or alcohol… but from mass murder. And when somebody gets back on the kill wagon, the party goes straight to hell, with the caterers marked for death!
Monster Party is the sophomore feature by writer/director Chris von Hoffman, and in spite of a telling smaller budget, his style and ability really shines through. The build up to the inevitable party massacre is decently paced, with enough tension building to keep you hooked. The story deals with themes of wealth disparity and how the rich prey on the poor much like other socially conscious horror films such as Society and They Live, but doesn’t go too deep into them. The satire is apparent, but it felt more face value than anything.
The ensemble cast stands out, especially the three would-be thieves. The opening establishes their relationship well and shows the dire situation that brings them out of the frying pan and into the fire in the quest for money to save Casper’s father from his own greed. On the other side, the family and associates of killers were all right for the most part. The ones that caught the most attention were Kian Lawley and Lance Reddick’s characters. Elliot is an obnoxious and short-tempered psychopath who doesn’t care for their group’s homicide sobriety while Reddick’s Milo acts as a calculating leader to the patchwork group of millionaire maniacs. His character able to see the consequences of their actions and trying to rein them in with a charisma that leashes the others in… or at least, tries to keep them in check.
The cinematography of Monster Party by Tobias Deml is a highlight, showcasing the beauty of Malibu Beach and the Dawson Estate in parallel to the abject horrors taking place. The scares are low for the most part, operating more as a thriller like Green Room and Don’t Breathe but lacking quite the same punch. There are a few decent twists and turns by the end, but the plot line unfolds fairly straightforward once things go to hell.
While not the strongest modern thriller, Monster Party is a well made lower-budgeted thriller with a good sense of class and carnage.
Monster Party is in limited theaters and VOD/Digital starting November 2nd.