director Jeremy Saulnier
2016 has sucked for a lot of people, but has had some very good points for Jeremy Saulnier. His thriller Green Room is doubtlessly going to end up on a lot of “Best of 2016” lists (I’m sure it will be on mine). I am also sure that even this success will be muted in part due to the accidental death of star Anton Yelchin earlier this year (this year was persistent in sucking). Saulnier is definitely on people’s radar now.
And for me, Murder Party cements that.
His first feature film, released in 2007, is a horror comedy that should have made more of a splash when it first came out. A hapless, lonely dude finds his way to a “Murder Party” at a Brooklyn warehouse on Halloween night. Dressed in a last-minute, home-made cardboard knight costume, he finds himself in the hands of a group of artists who plan to kill him for art’s sake and the promise of a large cash stipend.
I won’t ruin it for you by divulging a thing more. It’s pretty hilarious and surprising. Not everything works, but a lot of it does, and it’s as entertaining as anything of its ilk that I’ve seen in a long while.
But what really tipped it over the top for me was that this film was made with Saulnier’s old childhood friends, a group of whom made backyard movies on VHS and Super-8 through the 1980’s and early 1990’s. They all went off to their universities, and Saulnier regrouped them for this picture. They are producers and stars of this film, some of whom are surprisingly good in their roles, playing characters that have their own first names. This includes Saulnier’s go-to guy Macon Blair.
What I love about this is two-fold. I love the fanatics who made their own films as kids and teens, especially these guys experiments with blood effects. But I also love that he brought his pals back to work on a feature film and that these guys are the stars of the movie, including hapless dude Chris (Chris Stark). Their occasional shortcomings are all the more endearing.
Jeremey Saulnier is legitimately one of the most interesting and promising filmmakers out there. I can’t wait to see what he does next. I hope that his DIY cinematic upbringing continues to inform his work.