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Dustin Putman

Deathgasm  (2015)
2½ Stars
Directed by Jason Lei Howden.
Cast: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman, Sam Berkley, Daniel Cresswell, Delaney Tabron, Stephen Ure, Nick Hoskins-Smith, Colin Moy, Jodie Rimmer, Erroll Shand, Kate Elliott, Aaron McGregor, Andrew Laing.
2015 – 86 minutes
Not Rated (equivalent of an R for strong bloody violence and gore, nudity, language and some drug use).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for, January 7, 2016.
Harkening back to the heavy-metal horror-fantasy likes of 1986's "Trick or Treat" and 1987's "The Gate," "Deathgasm" is a jestful, splatterific New Zealand-made satire determined to live up to its moniker. When his meth-addicted mom gets sent to jail, sensitive metalhead teen Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) moves to the nowhere town of Greypoint to stay with his God-fearing uncle and idiot-jock cousins. Trying to find a place to fit in as he dodges bullies and pines from afar for classmate Medina (Kimberley Crossman), he starts a metal band with aspiring musician Zakk (James Blake) and the "Dungeons & Dragons"-playing Dion (Sam Berkley) and Giles (Daniel Cresswell). The decision to snatch a mysterious music sheet from Haxan Sword lead singer Rikki Daggers (Stephen Ure) is questionable enough, but when the friends play the song they inadvertently unleash demonic forces hellbent on possessing the town.

"Deathgasm" aims to be a raucous party romp, and for the most part it succeeds. Taking it seriously isn't really in the cards—in one scene, the guys use dildos, vibrators and anal beads as deadly weapons—but the violence incurred in the third act threatens to put a damper on the fun vibe. Nevertheless, there is a sweetly observant, albeit acid-tongued, tone which writer-director Jason Lei Howden gets right. Aided by Simon Raby's spasmodic but disciplined camerawork, Howden lends the film a stylized visual spark, his incorporation of colorful animation with the live-action story giving it the feel of a graphic novel come to life. Milo Cawthorne and Heath Ledger-lookalike James Blake are well cast as long-haired, metal-loving partners in crime Brodie and Zakk, while the old-school practical effects additionally give the proceedings a throwback feel. "Deathgasm" is perhaps too busy for its own good and not always seamlessly plotted—the epilogue set two months later leaves more logistical questions than answers for its teen protagonist—but the movie's infectious sensibilities are hard to deny.
© 2016 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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