New Horror Releases: Garden Party Massacre (2017) - Reviewed

From the creator of the acclaimed short film Deadly Revisions comes the new horror comedy Garden Party Massacre, about a group of friends who have an uninvited guest armed with a pickax show up to their party. Despite being more comedy than horror, this is a hilarious satire of suburbia and a TV sitcom or soap opera stuck within the slasher subgenre of horror that features a strong ensemble cast, great dialogue, and wonderful performances. Forget the screams and prepare for laughs, this quirky and brilliant take on suburbia answers the question of what would happen if Seinfeld or The Big Bang Theory cast were thrown into a slasher film.

The story is relatively simple, being based on the premise of a gathering of friends. The conversations and issues revolving around the characters have to do with personal relationships, sex, pop culture, and conspiracy theories. These are the typical and sometimes mundane things that everyone would talk about, in real life and within the confines of a television series. The smart thing that writer, director, and co-star Gregory Blair does is that he maintains this banter throughout the entire movie. Normally, when a killer shows up, all hell breaks loose and the characters emotions, behavior, and dialogue are altered. This doesn’t happen here. We get screams and a bunch of scared individuals, but their performances are purposely unnatural and imitate what we would expect to see on a television comedy. 

While there are some interesting camera angles, the camera work is generally simple and mirrors that of either a television show or play. That isn’t to say that it's boring in any way, just that the focus is more on capturing the actor’s physical movements, dialogue, and facial expressions. Aside from the rock song in the opening credits, the score closely mirrors that of a lighthearted comedic film or TV sitcom. It is light and playful featuring a mixture of piano and strings. 

The acting is surprisingly outstanding for a low budget indie feature. The six core actors deliver exceptional performances, with each of the characters having their own specific idiosyncrasies and individual moments. They all have at least one really good line or moment that enables them to stand out. Andy Gates and Nichole Bagby are delightful as Caleb and Addison, the bickering couple who are playing host to the party. Blair is amusing as the inept and goofy Lincoln, providing the audience with a new and memorable dimwitted character. David Leeper terrifically portrays homosexual Wesley, who is searching for love and trying to determine if Lincoln fits into that equation. Lisa Hart is fantastic as Reena, who is reminiscent of a darker version of Elaine Benes from Seinfeld and has by far the funniest line of the picture. Dawna Lee Heising is freakishly funny as Reena’s unwelcome cougar friend Melanie. 

Because this is more comedy than horror, there is no gore and the violence is mostly off screen. Aside from some crude language and sexual innuendo, this is the closest thing that you’ll probably get to a family friendly slasher movie. Blood is the only thing that shows up and it is pretty minimal. 

Garden Party Massacre is admittedly not for everyone, especially horror fans that don’t like comedy added to their plate. But, if you do like comedy or satire that pokes fun at different genres, then this is well worth giving a chance. Gregory Blair has crafted a unique take on the slasher subgenre. 

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