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Film / Murder Party

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Murder Party is a 2007 Horror Comedy by Jeremy Saulnier and The Lab of Madness about a hapless loner named Chris Hawley who finds an open invitation to a "Murder Party" on Halloween and decides to attend because his cat wouldn't move from his chair. Unbeknownst to Chris, the Murder Party turns out to be Exactly What It Says on the Tin, hosted by a group of five deranged, but fortunately not terribly competent artists who intend to kill him as a part of an art piece in order to appeal to a wealthy aficionado named Alexander.

Chris's captors make several attempts to eliminate Chris, all of which go hilariously awry. Chris has to use his limited wits to make an eventual escape after the party breaks down into all out havoc.

This film provides examples of:

  • A-Cup Angst: Lexi appears to suffer from this, because she is wearing prosthetic breast enhancers which she removes while under the effects of sodium pentathol.
  • Activist-Fundamentalist Antics: The artists tend to lean straw liberal, and they attempt to justify their actions with this motivation.
  • Agitated Item Stomping: Played for great comedic effect, when Bill arbitrarily destroys the cake that was purchased for Chris with an axe at the meltdown point of the party.
  • All Issues Are Political Issues:
    Paul: "Lexi, let's leave politics out of this."
    Lexi: "There's nothing more political than art!"
  • Amusing Injuries: Sky and Macon both accidentally kill themselves in amusing ways. Macon also accidentally disfigures himself in an amusing manner prior to his eventual demise.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Played mostly for laughs from Macon to Lexi during the sodium pentothal scene.
  • Attack Animal: Played for laughs with Hellhammer, though he ends up being a truly lethal force by the end of the movie.
  • Attention Whore: All of the artists, though Sky stands out because she lands head first on a jagged pipe piece while allegedly having an allergic reaction to inorganic raisins because of the preservatives.
  • Ax-Crazy: Bill both figuratively and literally at the end of the movie. Well more extremely and effectively than the others, that is. Macon, by comparison, consciously attempts to play the part but fails miserably.
  • Bad Boss: Alexander likes to throw his weight around with the artists, commanding them to do humiliating things and generally calls the shots for his own amusement.
  • Battle Cry: Bill: "Fuck the scene! Everyone dies!"
  • Because I'm Good At It: Zycho is both a drug dealer and a body guard/hired thug simply because he likes doing it, and it frees him of the boredom of selling pierogies with his parents.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: All of the artists.
  • Berserk Button: For Bill, learning that Alexander has been lying to them and that there is no money finally drives him into a murderous rage. He's so incensed by Alexander that even after a Hope Spot where an acquaintance compliments his art and seems to mollify him, the mere mention of Alexander's name is enough to reignite his bloody rampage.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Bill spends most of the movie playing a video game and virtually ignoring what happens around him. Once he reaches his breaking point, however, he goes completely berserk.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Everyone but Chris is a narcissist at best, and an Ax-Crazy lunatic at worst.
  • Blood-Splattered Warrior: Played for laughs with Chris, whose cardboard armor is coated with blood by the end.
  • Book Ends: An early scene has Chris fail to get his cat off of his chair. In the end, he again asks his cat to get off his chair. Apparently sensing that Chris has seen some shit, the cat complies this time.
  • Bomb Throwing Anarchist: Bill and Lexi fall into this category, though they never actually throw any bombs. Sky may have been one too.
  • Butt-Monkey: Chris, and also the artists at various points in the movie.
  • Chaotic Stupid: All of the villains in this movie, save for Zycho.
  • Clothing Reflects Personality: Taken to an extreme because it's a Halloween film, and everyone is in costume.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Sky, Lexi, Macon, Paul, and Bill.
  • The Comically Serious: Both Zycho and Bill qualify as this, seeing as they remain the most serious members despite the goofiness around them and even when they have moments of it themselves.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Macon's corded electric chainsaw, which causes him problems throughout the movie due to its very obvious drawback.
  • Crapsack World: The camera lingers on the smashed pumpkins, broken eggs and whipped creamed cars after Halloween. The film's portrayal of the New York art scene is also pretty pointed.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Chris in the end, sort of. Bill might also classify, and Lexi to some extent, who attacks Zycho in a move worthy of her character Priss and gives him a hard time by incapacitating him until he is killed.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: What a murder party it is! In short order: Zycho is sawed off slowly in the foot, Alexander has his lips and lower jaw bitten off and gets beaten to death with a baseball bat, all of Bill's victims get axed to death and Bill himself gets his skull sawn off while still conscious.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Bill. Always deadpan. He didn't sign up for a second-degree assault party.
  • Death Trap: The plot of the movie is premised around a death trap.
  • Devoted to You: Macon to Lexi.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Alexander serves as the Big Bad for the first two acts of the film. In the third act, however, it's Bill who kills everyone and chases after Chris.
  • The Ditz: Everyone in this film. This trait is especially prominent with Macon, Lexi, and Chris.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Macon chases after Lexi throughout their time in the film.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Alexander pays for betraying everyone by experiencing this both literally by Hellhammer, who bites off his lips and lower jaw, and figuratively once Bill goes berserk and beats him to death with a baseball bat.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The villains of the film frequently use drugs and make poor decisions because of it, though also (and more likely) because they are stupid. When Chris first meets the artists, Lexi is doing cocaine, and she cackles maniacally upon his arrival.
  • Empty Promise: Alexander is not who he says he is at all. He has convinced all of the artists that he is a wealthy art enthusiast so that he can take advantage of them and lure them into a trap to have them all killed, just as he had them lure Chris into a trap. And all so he could sell their art after they were dead. He is actually a fry cook named Tim.
  • The Eeyore: Bill.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: There are quite a few examples of this. The most obvious is Macon being in love with Lexi, but there is also Lexi calling her mom when she freaks out and even Bill's confession that he'd rather be home with his mom and dad.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The entire artist group becomes offended when Zycho says the N word unexpectedly, and they take a disliking to him as a result. Lexi goes so far as to tell him that she hates him.
    • Also, Sky, who does not want to kill Chris and is actively seeking a manner in which they can avoid killing him while still "ruling the scene". Macon is extremely apologetic after one of his murder attempts, and in the end, Lexi sets Chris free but is killed right afterwards while attempting to answer a call from her mother.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The party degenerates into a carnage first between the artists and Alexander and Zycho who try to kill them according to plan and then between Bill and EVERYONE else, who is left alive (granted they are not many).
  • Extreme Doormat: Chris. The whole plot kicks off because he can't convince his cat to move from his chair to watch movies.
  • Facial Horror: Macon sets his face on fire while wearing the werewolf mask that he's been using as his costume, and trying to light a cigarette. This leads to Macon literally fusing the mask to his face, because Lexi and Paul's photo assistant took too long trying to put him out.
  • Fake Boobs: Lexi reveals that she is wearing prosthetic breasts when she is given sodium pentathol.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Alexander acts all suave and sophisticated, but it's obvious that he's getting a kick out of the carnage.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the opening credits montage, a woman is shown arguing with a Traffic Warden. Chris is later revealed to be a traffic warden himself and admits that all he does in his job is upset people.
    • Macon says that he could actually be a werewolf. Toward the end of the film, his werewolf mask gets melted to his face, making him look like a werewolf.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Bill becomes a nightmare by true horror movies standards once he is fed up with being insulted and decides to take matters in his own hands.
  • Glory Hound: The artists.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Chris is brought into the game of truth or dare and also dosed with truth serum. He provides two puns as the group exchanges them and makes his own embarrassing confession. He almost bonds with the artists.
  • Granola Girl: Sky and Lexi.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Lexi unchains Chris to let him go right before she is hit in the back of the head with an axe by Bill.
  • High-Pressure Blood: In the end, when Chris kills Bill with the chainsaw.
  • Hockey Mask and Chainsaw: While not a hockey mask, Macon wears a werewolf mask and wields an electric chainsaw.
  • Hollywood Acid: Subverted brilliantly when Macon, thanks to Sky who has lifted a bottle of acetic acid (i.e. vinegar acid) from a lab at the campus which she attends, attempts to douse Chris with the substance, believing it to be highly corrosive. While he instantly regrets the decision out of guilt, he is soon humiliated, when absolutely nothing happens, and his cohorts discover the true nature of the innocuous substance.
  • Hypocritical Humor: All of the artists commit this at some point. The example that springs to mind is when Sky, as liberal as the rest of her friends, refers to Chris as "a retarded person", because she mistakes his corny Halloween costume and social ineptitude for a sign of developmental disability.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: All of the artists save for Bill. Special mention goes to Macon who screwed up each and every attack move he made and ended up killing himself by stupidity.
  • It's All Junk:
    • When Chris throws his bottle of prescription alprazolam at the end of the movie, because he decides he doesn't need it.
    • When Bill comically lays waste to the cake to emphasize his point that "The party's over!"
  • It's Not Porn, It's Art: In the end, there is a goofy exhibition mocking the pretentiousness of the art scene, which features partial nudity of live models.
  • The Klutz: Macon is frequently making stupid, clumsy mistakes throughout the film, like getting his axe caught in the light cord when trying to swing at Chris.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: The artists and Alexander.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: The artists start taking turns making very bad puns, though they're both groaning and laughing. Even Chris gets in on it. His first attempt whiffs, but his second provokes a big laugh.
  • MacGyvering: Hilariously subverted in this movie when Chris is locked in a supply cabinet, with commonplace items, and it looks like he's gathering things to make a device that will allow an ingenious escape, but when the door is opened, he simply drops all the items on the ground in front of his captives, confusing them long enough to make a run for it.
  • Mad Artist: The primary antagonists of the movie.
  • Meaningful Name: "Zycho" sure sounds a lot like "psycho," and he is in fact a psychopath. The character is notably one of the few to not be named after the actor.
  • Mistaken Confession: When Chris first announces that he soiled himself (in the past) the artists initially take it to mean that he did it just before he said it.
  • Mistaken for Exhibit: After Bill messily kills several performance artists, there's a scene where patrons look in on the bloodspattered room filled with bodies, and speculate on the artistic meaning of the piece. Chris simply tells a bouncer, "It's real," as he stumbles past.
  • Muse Abuse: Bill, Lexi, Paul, and Macon all plan to murder Chris for the sake of art.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After showing off a Large Ham personality mixed with Ax-Crazy and gleefully taunting Chris about being burned with hydrochloric acid, Macon immediately panics and starts begging for forgiveness from Chris after pouring the acid on him and believing that he's really burnt Chris upon seeing him thrash in terror. Luckily for Chris, Sky's incompetence meant she accidentally picked up vinegar instead of hydrochloric acid.
  • Narcissist: The artists are all incredibly self absorbed.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Immediately after releasing Chris from his restraints so that he can escape, Lexi is struck in the back of the head by an axe wielded by Bill, killing her instantly.
  • Not Quite Dead: Quite roasted like a hot dog but not dead as everyone else is quick to assume. Macon survives with melted skin and a werewolf mask fused to his face and actually gets to do things since he kills Zycho and chases after Bill, inadvertently saving Chris. Of course before the night is over he dies for good, but is still the penultimate member to die. Not bad.
  • Potty Failure: While on sodium pentathol, Chris admits to pooping his pants in an elevator, though the way he starts his story makes the artists believe that he'd just now shit his pants.
  • Psychopathic Manchild:
    • Bill spends most of the film sitting on the ground playing a video game. At one point he says he'd rather be at home watching movies with his mom or dad.
    • At least Lexi and Macon also qualify as they are quite immature. Especially Macon who always wants to feel that he has a powerful presence and acts over-the-top (even when it's impractical to do so) to get attention.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The five artists, Paul, Lexi, Macon, Sky, and Bill.
  • Psychotic Smirk: One of Alexander's default expressions.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Lexi appears to have a change of heart as the party gets out of control and unties Chris to help him escape. And then gets an axe in the head from Bill for her troubles.
  • Red Herring: With Macon still managing to be alive and his rage upon seeing Bill kill Lexi you'd think that he'll come in and take down Bill by surprise as vengeance. Instead, he falls off the roof while trying to plug his chainsaw in.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Sky is about to tell her big idea to avoid killing Chris and still "rule the scene," but she falls on her head before she can finish.
  • Schmuck Bait: Chris finds an invitation to a "murder party" on Halloween and decides to go. It's actually bait in a trap to lure an unsuspecting victim to a private location to murder him. The perpetrators remark that they can't believe someone fell for it and criticize Chris for being so gullible.
  • Shameful Strip: Alexander forces Paul to strip down to his underwear for wearing a better vampire costume than him. Paul eventually puts his pants back on.
  • Share Phrase: Everyone in "the scene" uses the term "dildo" to refer to someone they don't like or who annoys them.
  • Shout-Out: Lexi is dressed as Pris from Blade Runner. Bill is dressed as a Baseball Fury from The Warriors. Just like the Baseball Furies, Bill doesn't talk much. He also ends up using a bat as a weapon.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The artists all think very highly of their work, though they are decidedly not well known in the movie's own context. The one with the smallest name in comparison to his gigantic ego must be Alexander though, who is unbelievably pretentious to the point of writing fancy words to use them later and acting like a snobbish aficionado when he is actually a fry cook named Tim.
  • Smug Snake: Alexander is this to everyone in the film, always flaunting his intelligence, taste and wealth until the end where it becomes clear that he has none of the sort.
  • The Snack Is More Interesting: In the middle of the murder party, the artists have a long argument about what food to order. Zycho is more interested in getting fish and chips than anything that's happening at the party.
  • Social Climber: The artists, for seeking Alexander's approval, his alleged prestige and money. So much so that the two biggest ones of them, Lexi and Paul, have sex with Alexander, presumably to win his favor.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Chris develops a case of Stockholm Syndrome, which is most notable during the extreme truth or dare scene. It is probably the closest that he has ever gotten to a group of people for a very long time.
    Chris: "You guys cuss a lot. But that's ok."
  • The Stoic:
    • Zycho displays stereotypical Slavic stoicism.
    • Bill is this up until the point where he finds out Alexander lied to the whole group.
  • Straw Nihilist: Bill.
  • Token Good Teammate: Sky is the only one of the artists to be against killing Chris from the start, and even comes up with an idea so that they can spare his life while still making the art piece. Unfortunately, she dies before explaining what the idea was.
  • Took a Level in Badass: What Chris eventually turns into. Compare the hapless loner at the beginning of the film whose cat doesn't respect him to the blood-soaked chainsaw wielding cardboard knight in the end where he is reeling from carving Bill's skull in half and the general death and gore that surrounds him.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Macon after seeing Bill kill his crush Lexi, which drives him into a fury and leaves him hellbent on killing Bill in retribution.
  • Traffic Warden: Chris admits to being a parking enforcement officer. He makes very little money and upsets people every day.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: The strange lap dance that Lexi does for Chris seems to imply some level of attraction she has for him. Though mostly that she felt at the moment that it would be appropriate to sexually tease her victim and mess with him to make herself feel like a femme-fatale.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We last see Hellhammer running off after chewing up Alexander's face. Judging by the amount of crank he ate, he probably won't last long.