Deathgasm Blu-ray Review: Good, Brutal Fun

Growing up, I remember hearing some adults referring to heavy metal music (and its offshoots) as “devil music.” In Deathgasm, it turns out they’re right. It kicks off with headbanger Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) bringing the viewer up to speed on how he came to live with his ultra-Christian aunt and uncle and his preppy douchebag bully of a cousin. The narration sets the stage, and probably trimmed some runtime, but it ensures the pace doesn’t drag with exposition. This is a horror-comedy, after all. If something isn’t gushing guts or making me laugh, it needs to step aside.

Struggling to fit in in Greypoint, a small town of square folk, Brodie eventually befriends perhaps the only other local metalhead, Zakk (James Blake). Things happen, and the next thing you know, Brodie and Zakk find themselves in possession of some handwritten sheet music with demonic icons on it and Latin writing on it. More things happen, Brodie figures out that playing the music will give him ultimate power, and decides to go for it to solve his woefully adolescent problems. Doing so, however, wreaks havoc on anyone within earshot, turning them into demon-possessed eyeless monsters.

They seek out the help of the town’s psychic Abigail (Kate Elliott) to untangle the mess and put things right while organized and well funded demon-worshippers Aeon (Andrew Laing) and Shanna (Delaney Tabron) try to track them down and take ultimate power for themselves. During all of this, Brodie is intermittently trying to get Medina (Kimberley Crossman) to be his girlfriend. Thwarted at every turn, Brodie takes matters into his own hands and improvises a solution that may or may not work…or make any real sense. Weaponized sex toys? Okay, sure. It might be ludicrous, but so is the rest of the movie.

I’m not sure what the overlap is between the metal community and horror fans — maybe it’s vast, I can’t say. However, that particular crowd is likely to love what’s going on here. Horror fans will get the guts and gore and boobs they so crave, comedy fans will get some good laughs, and thrashers get a soundtrack that’ll give them whiplash. How it all came to be is explained in some of the bonus features, including a five-minute “meet the cast” featurette, interview with writer/director Jason Lei Howden, behind-the-scenes on the solid effects work, and feature commentary with Howden. The effects in particular have the film punching above its metaphoric budgetary weight class, and that’s not a huge surprise once I noticed writer/director Howden previously did compositor, rotoscope, and digital paint work on movies like The Hobbit, The Wolverine, Man of Steel, The Great Gatsby, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Prometheus, The Avengers, Ghost Rider; Spirit of Vengeance. That’s quite a resume by any measure. Combing through IMDB, I noticed that the primary overlaps in previous work among the cast include the Spartacus series, Hobbit movies, and various flavors of Power Rangers shows. Kind of a weird mix, but it works.

The audio and visual elements of Deathgasm are perhaps its strongest points, especially in high definition on Blu-ray. There were some particular camera shots that were especially memorable, like chainsaw cam and the view from inside Brodie’s aunt’s mouth.

Deathgasm is a good, fun movie, but for me was missing something in the writing that movies like Army of Darkness or Shaun of the Dead have me coming back for again and again. It’s more cheesy than cheeky, and some of the jokes can be seen coming a mile away rather than being surprisingly clever. However, this is a solid start and the crew definitely has the chops to really run with it. I look forward to seeing what they come up with next.

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Mark Buckingham

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