Starring Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman, Sam Berkley, Daniel Cresswell
Directed by Jason Lei Howden
New Zealand continues to pump out some of the most wildly fun genre material to be found gracing screens with Jason Lei Howden’s heavy metal opus Deathgasm.
When his mum’s locked up, teenage metalhead Brodie (Cawthorne) is sent to live in the care of his devoutly Christian aunt and uncle. With his love of all things metal frowned upon by his religious wardens, and relentlessly picked on at school by his meathead jock cousin, Brodie is elated to come into contact with a kindred spirit in the form of local hell-raiser Zakk (Blake).
Getting together with D&D nerds Dion (Berkley) and Giles (Cresswell), the group set up their very own metal band, DEATHGASM. When they come into possession of some esoteric sheet music, the band play it together – unwittingly unleashing the legions of Aeloth The Blind. These entities quickly set about possessing the bodies of everyone in earshot as they proceed on a mission to raise their demonic master.
Now, the town is flooded with the eyeless possessed and Brodie & Co. must figure out how to use the music – known as The Black Hymn – to close the gates of hell and prevent Armageddon… in as metal a way as possible.
From the opening to closing credits, Deathgasm is a film that never, ever, ceases to entertain. To paraphrase Charlie Sheen, Deathgasm has one gear: GO. The humour hardly ever ceases, with a seemingly endless stream of visual and dialogue gags flying at you from every scene – and that’s before you even get to the gore.
Death by axe (in more ways than one, as guitars are fashioned into weapons). Death by head-ripping. Death by dildo. Death by anal beads. Death, death, death, death, death… gasm. There’s no choice but to sink back into your chair and let the madness wash over you in an orgy of wanton destruction so lovingly crafted – and brought to live with such verve – that the smile will split your head in a way that hasn’t been seen since Peter Jackson’s splatter heyday.
It also certainly helps if you’re a metal fan. References to classic and modern metal abound, including the band’s hilarious attempt at shooting a black metal-inspired music video, and while fun is most definitely poked at the genre, Deathgasm also acts in reverence. This is an out-and-out love letter to headbanging and devil horns – to everyone who grew up (or is growing up) as the malcontent misfit finding power and release in the sonic landscapes of heavy goddamn metal.
Are there problems? Sure. The biggest issue is what feels like a particularly rushed climax that doesn’t give the deaths of certain secondary characters anywhere near the care that it should – their killings are flippant and instant, and while that certainly fits with the film’s frivolous tone, it doesn’t display the necessary respect for characters with whom we’ve had so much fun. Yet, in the grand scheme, it feels a minor grievance against a film that tries to deliver so much joy.
On most occasions, extremely poor reviews are ones to cut short for the sake of sanity, but this is an exception. Stop reading this, right now, and go find out when and where Deathgasm is playing near you. See this movie. Love this movie. Deathgasm is a consistently hilarious, insanely gory, power chord blast of fun – one which, like a favourite record, should be just as great to rock out with time and time again as it is on first contact.