Jason Lei Howden’s blend of heavy metal and heavy gore was a natural fit for the horror movie festivals it played during 2015 to a rapturous reception. There’s no mistaking the sincerity of the love that Howden clearly has for both horror and metal, and they’ve combined for a horror comedy that’s a hell of a lot of fun.
Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) is a teenage outsider struggling to survive in his brutally normal small New Zealand town. The only good thing in his life is metal, which leads him to befriend abrasive loner Zakk (James Blake), and the duo decide to form a band. They’ve got a great name: DEATHGASM (“All caps. Lower case is for pussies”). There’s just one thing holding them back: their lack of talent. How can they become metal gods if they can’t write a song?
When they break into the house of a metal giant long thought dead, they steal a book that should give them the powers of darkness. What it does is unleash the forces of evil on their town and turn everyone into bloodthirsty monsters. Can Brodie stay alive long enough to send these bastards back to hell while winning the heart of the lovely Medina (Kimberley Crossman)?
Any gory low-budget horror from New Zealand is inevitably going to get the early Peter Jackson comparison, but in the case of Deathgasm, it’s deserved, especially when it comes to the inventive nature of the carnage. Spines are ripped out, heads are severed, and sex toys are used as deadly weapons.
It also works surprisingly well when it’s showing Brodie’s journey from zero to hero (I know, sorry), as he realises that Zakk might not be someone to look up to and learns to take responsibility. The rapport between Cawthorne and Blake is great, creating a friendship that carries the first half of the film. Kimberley Crossman (Power Rangers Samurai) also deserves praise for her performance as the popular girl who undergoes a metal awakening.
It’s patchy and not all of the jokes land, but this is a good example of a film made for a specific audience by a filmmaker who counts himself among them. So if the idea of metal, splatter and slapstick appeals to you, then we definitely recommend checking this out. We had a great time.