You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

SXSW Film Review: ‘Deathgasm’

Suburban metal heads awaken a demonic force in this gory New Zealand comedy.

Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman, Sam Berkley, Daniel Cresswell, Stephen Ure, Jodie Rimmer, Colin Moy, Nick Hoskins-Smith, Aaron McGregor, Andrew Liang, Tim Foley, Delaney Tabron, Cameron Rhodes, Erroll Shand, Kate Elliott, Campbell Rouselle.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3705412/

If the title appeals, then you’re probably going to be tolerably amused by “Deathgasm,” which combines heavy metal, gore-horror and comedy into an inevitably rude, bloody mess. Still, this amiably dumb feature debut for New Zealand writer-director Jason Lei Howden could have used some additional polish on the scripting side to bump its bad-taste humor up from the routinely to the inspirationally silly. Offshore, the pic is guaranteed a run on the fantasy fest circuit and niche home-format sales pickups in relevant territories.

When teenage Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) sees his widowed mom packed off to a mental institution, he’s sent to live with his nearest relatives. Unfortunately, Uncle Albert (Colin Moy) and Aunt Mary (Jodie Rimmer) are conservative evangelical Christians who take great umbrage at their long-haired, tat-sporting nephew’s fondness for the devil’s music. (Pic’s soundtrack is duly packed with cuts from from such savory acts as Skull Fist, Nunslaughter and Lair of the Minotaur.)

Worse, this upright family’s sole offspring, David (Nick Hoskins-Smith), is a jock jerk who promptly makes Brodie his latest target for bullying. On the plus side, our hero meets the coolest fellow metalhead in this otherwise bland town, Zedd (James Blake). Though Zedd is imperiously self-absorbed, he condescends to form a band with the newcomer and his fellow high-school misfits Dion (Sam Berkley) and Giles (Daniel Cresswell).

It’s Zedd’s idea that they break into a seemingly abandoned home that turns out to be the hiding place for cadaverous M.I.A. metal frontman Rikki Daggers (Stephen Ure), who is not happy to receive visitors. But he does them the favor of hustling them out with a keepsake just before he’s found and killed by an emissary from devil-cult leader Vadin (Tim Foley), who seeks the score pages to a Satanic mass that Brodie and Zakk now find themselves in possession of.

When the lads attempt to play it in their rehearsal garage, everyone within earshot turns into demons, which then run amok around town. It’s up to Brodie & Co. (joined by Kimberley Crossman as David’s cute, unhappy g.f., Medina) to try halting the massacre, an effort further complicated by the arrival of Vadin, his right-hand vixen (Delaney Tabron) and their minions.

There’s plenty of vivid splatstick here, including extensive bodily harm inflicted by sex toys. Too bad the energy and ingenuity expended on these f/x aren’t equaled by the script. Opportunities to satirize the metal universe (beyond brief, amusing bits of Frazetta-style gonzo warrior imagery) or anything else are rarely seized. The dialogue could be a lot sharper, and the narrative lurches rather gracelessly from one setpiece to another. It’s all too rare that the film comes up with an idea that’s funny beyond a basic “Eww, that’s gross” way; the demise of loathsome cousin David is one scarce instance of actual cleverness that briefly lifts the movie from Troma-level yuks to “Shaun of the Dead”-type drollery.

Nonetheless, the consistent if undiscriminating high energy engenders a certain persuasive goodwill. Performances are game, design and tech aspects above average on a modest budget, with some brief animations and miscellaneous metal-style graphics diversifying the visual texture.

Popular on Variety

SXSW Film Review: 'Deathgasm'

Reviewed at SXSW Film Festival (Midnighters), March 20, 2015. Running time: 86 MIN.

Production: (New Zealand) An Metalheads and Darksky Films presentation in association with New Zealand Film Commission, MPI Pictures and Timpson Films. (International sales: MPI, Chicago.) Produced by Andrew Beattie, Morgan Leigh Stewart, Sarah Wensley, Todd Wieneke. Executive producers, Ant Timpson, Greg Newman, Badie Ali, Hamza Ali.

Crew: Directed, written by Jason Lei Howden. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Simon Raby; editors, Jeff Hurrell, Gareth Van Niekerk; music, Dead Pirate; production designer/costume designer, Jane Bucknell; art director, Lisa Dunn; blood and gore technician, Tim Wells; sound, Dave Hurley; sound designer, Van Niekerk; re-recording mixer, Chris Sinclair stunt coordinator, Steve McQuillan; assistant director, Robyn Grace; second unit director, Aleksander Sakowski.

With: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman, Sam Berkley, Daniel Cresswell, Stephen Ure, Jodie Rimmer, Colin Moy, Nick Hoskins-Smith, Aaron McGregor, Andrew Liang, Tim Foley, Delaney Tabron, Cameron Rhodes, Erroll Shand, Kate Elliott, Campbell Rouselle.

More Film

  • Noele trailer Anna Kendrick

    Disney Unveils 'Noelle' Trailer Starring Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader

    Among the many announcements at the D23 Expo, Disney debuted the first look at holiday feature “Noelle,” which is set to premiere exclusively on Disney Plus this fall. “It isn’t Christmas without Santa’s Sister,” Walt Disney Studios said of the film on Twitter. Starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader, the Christmas flick tells the story [...]

  • A Hidden Life Movie Austria

    Film News Roundup: Austin Festival Selects Terrence Malick's 'A Hidden Life'

    In today’s film news roundup, the Austin Film Festival selects a Terrence Malick title, “A Day Without a Mexican” gets a sequel and DCR Finance signs a first-look deal. FESTIVAL SCREENING The Austin Film Festival will screen Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life,” which won the Francois Chalais and Ecumenical Jury awards at the Cannes Film [...]

  • Blake Lively

    Blake Lively's 'Rhythm Section' Moved Back to 2020

    Paramount Pictures has moved the release date of Blake Lively’s “The Rhythm Section” back two months from Nov. 22 to Jan. 31, 2020, the weekend of Super Bowl LIV. The spy tale, adapted from Mark Burnell’s novels surrounding character Stephanie Patrick, is produced by James Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson through their [...]

  • The Mandalorian

    'The Mandalorian': Watch the First Trailer for 'Star Wars' Series

    The gunslinging lone warrior — the Mandalorian, as they call him — calls the far reaches of the “Star Wars” galaxy home. Disney dropped the first trailer for the spinoff series during its biennial D23 convention on Friday, finally giving fans a closer look at the franchise’s newest character. “The Mandalorian” creator Jon Favreau, who [...]

  • Lady and the Tramp trailer

    'Lady and the Tramp': Disney's Live-Action Remake Gets First Trailer (Watch)

    Ready your dog-friendly bowl of spaghetti, Disney has debuted the first trailer for its live-action remake of “Lady and the Tramp,” starring Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux. The teaser was released during Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim at the Disney + presentation. In addition to Thompson and Theroux, who play the Lady and Tramp, respectively, [...]

  • Mickey Mouse waves to members of

    Spider-Man, Spicer and Splashy First-Looks: Everything We're Looking For at D23

    As if Disney hasn’t owned enough weekends this year at the box office, the biennial D23 Expo will light up Anaheim, Calif. over the next three days to celebrate the content monolith. From a new Netflix-competing streaming platform to scores of movie and series reveals — along with a few hot controversies to confront — [...]

  • Angel Has Fallen

    'Angel Has Fallen' to Dominate Modest Box Office With $20 Million Weekend

    Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman are leading the way at the North American box office with “Angel Has Fallen” on its way to about $20 million, early estimates showed Friday. Should forecasts hold, “Angel Has Fallen” will take in about double the next title, Universal’s second weekend of raunchy comedy “Good Boys” with about $10 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content