Deathgasm: Heavy Metal of Doooooooooooooooom
It’s been getting tough to find movies to watch on Netflix lately, especially as their content library has shrunk by 33% in the past two years. As Netflix changes its business model to focus on more original content, watching that newest blockbuster on the streaming service has become nigh-impossible. Although I disagree with Netflix’s overall strategy, one bright spot is my discovery of charming independent films, like the recently reviewed Pontypool, or the subject of today’s Way Too Late Review: 2015’s Deathgasm.
And I gotta say: thanks Netflix, for introducing me to a film that won Best Kill at the 2015 Toronto After Dark Film Festival. The kill in question was Death by Sex Toy, which tells you everything you need to know about the film. It’s gory, bloody, vulgar, contains mildly copious amounts of nudity, and generally doesn’t take itself too seriously. My kind of flick.
We open on Brodie, a loser living in the small New Zealand town of Greypoint. With his father dead and his mother institutionalized, Brodie lives with his ultra-religious aunt and uncle, who disapprove of his metal leanings. Threatened daily by his jock cousin and unable to catch the eye of Medina, Brodie takes comfort in his friends and their band, Deathgasm.
Once Brodie meets Zakk, everything changes. Zakk is cool; Zakk takes no shit from anybody. One day, Zakk dares Brodie to break into the house of local metal legend Rikki Daggers. After they break in, they discover Daggers home, and very paranoid. It seems people have been after Daggers for record, which he entrusts to the boys. Once back at the garage, Zakk and Brodie discover ancient sheet music in the record sleeve. Believing this to be their big hit, the boys try to play the music, only to possess the entire town with demons. What’s worse, they’re being pursued by cult members intent on making sure the end of the world stays that way.
Yes, the story is predictable. Brodie’s attraction to Medina and Zakk’s jealousy, which leads him to make a play for Medina himself, is telegraphed from a mile away. The film features as much gore, sex and vulgarity as one would expect from a movie called Deathgasm. But the movie’s self-awareness keeps it from being needlessly over-the-top. The acting is sincere, the effects entertaining and the direction solid. Director Jason Lei Howden cut his teeth in visual effects, and his direction shows he knows a thing or two about how to frame each shot. Howden’s previous credits include vfx work on sweeping epics such as The Great Gatsby, The Hobbit, and Man of Steel. That said, he gives his smaller film an epic feel, with great use of sound and effects. Looking forward to more things from him.
Quick summary: Brodie’s heavy-metal leanings don’t jive with his adopted parents, Aunt Mary and Uncle Albert. His only school friends are two losers, and together the three form a band. The band looks like it’s coming together with the arrival of Zakk, a take-no-prisoners bad boy. When Zakk and Brodie steal some old sheet music from a local death-metal legend, they thing they’ve stumbled across a song for their band. Unfortunately, once they pay the song, the whole town becomes possessed, and only they can reverse the curse.
Too many writers? Nope. Deathgasm is the brainchild of visual effects guy Jason Lei Howden, writing and directing his first full-length feature here.
Better than I expected? There’s a surprisingly heartwarming boy-meets-girl love story amid all the carnage.
Worse than I hoped? The plot is fairly predictable, although this doesn’t negate my enjoyment.
Should it be rebooted? Nope. Quirky gems like this should be left to their quirks.
Verdict: Deathgasm is perfect for comedy/horror fans or anyone who likes movies that don’t take themselves too seriously.
Related Reading: Wiki article