MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Deathgasm’ Is An Unforgettable Experience

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Film: Deathgasm
Starring: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake
Directed by: Jason Lei Howden

Deathgasm is further proof that no one makes outrageous and unforgettable indie horror films quite like the citizens of New Zealand.

Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) is a teenage boy who loves heavy metal. In fact, I think the word love probably understates the way Brodie feels about his favorite genre of music. Metal is the reason Brodie is able to deal with the awful cards he has been dealt in life, from losing both parents for various reasons, to being the target of bullying from people at school. It’s because of metal that Brodie finds the strength to get out of bed every day, so it only makes sense that he and his friends eventually form a metal band to create chaos of their own. They go by Deathgasm, and though they pretty much suck, the members love everything about their new project.

One day, just as Brodie is starting to win the affection of the cute popular girl at school, he and his friends come into possession of ancient sheet music with a Latin title. They don’t know it at the time, but the words basically translate into a deal with the devil, which is enacted as soon as anyone plays the accompanying song. A pentagram found on the music leads the band to believe the notes contained on the page may be the most metal they will ever encounter, and they quickly set to learning the song.

Before Deathgasm can complete the mysterious song, something mysterious happens. In the middle of a seemingly ordinary performance the skies go black, the band blacks out, and nearby citizens begin profusely bleeding from every orifice. Much like fellow Kiwi horror stories Dead Alive or Bad Taste, the blood in Deathgasm is copious and gratuitous, with fountains spewing from every victim as if it were flowing from a fire hose. When the band awakes, the nightmare continues, with zombies and demonic sightings appearing at ever turn. Brodie and his bandmates do their best to fight for survival, but one by one the group begins to succumb to the darkness.

I shouldn’t need to tease the final act of Deathgasm in order to sell you on seeing this unique and hilarious twist on demonic horror. The film is exactly what it markets itself to be, and it delivers on every promise made in big ways, from its violence to nailing key emotional moments. Through it all, the film is backed with a killer soundtrack featuring some of the best and heaviest metal you have ever heard, all backing a tale that is unlike anything you’ve seen presented on screen before.

This is not to say Deathgasm is without fault. While the first half of the film moves quite briskly, the narrative stumbles at the top of the second act as the band tries to understand just what has transpired. The scope of what writer/director Jason Lei Howden hopes to accomplish may simply be too much for his otherwise simple story, as things become increasingly messy in the immediate aftermath of the song’s initial performance. Thankfully, Howden is able to rein everything in before the climatic final battle, which provides laughs and blood aplenty. It’s not enough to make the film feel any less uneven, but it does save the story from descending into the depths of overcomplicated mediocrity.

While there is no doubt metalheads will feel a special connection to this film, I think there is something for every genre fan to enjoy in Deathgasm. It’s a fun and original take on perhaps the most tired trope in horror, and it delivers the kind of lighthearted, blood-soaked carnage only films from New Zealand can provide. Whether you love it or hate it, I promise you won’t forget it anytime soon, and that is more than you can say for 90% of films released today.

GRADE: B-

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • axeslasher

    Smart review! Thanks for watching.