Wednesday 15 February 2012

Party Girl (2009)

Director: Jayson Densman
Stars: Candace Porter and Tom Young
This film was an official selection at the 3rd Phoenix Fear Film Fest in Tempe in 2010. Here's an index to my reviews of 2010 films.
Another short film full of blood and gore and lit suitably red to underline that fact, it opens with a stack of corpses and a girl presiding over them. The camera lingers voyeuristically, hovering with relish over the results of her carnage for a while before we backtrack and watch her dance into a motel room with a man to get roughed up and raped. Like she wasn't up for this anyway? The tone is just right: grainy footage shot in a cinema verité style with elegantly passionate and utterly inappropriate classical music to accompany the brutality. Next time we see her, she's in as much control as she wasn't in the motel room and she's taking her revenge on every category of male sexual deviant. She's the Party Girl of the title, a female serial killer who we're invited to sympathise with, and that alternative perspective is capably matched by the notably subversive twist sicced on us at the finalé, one that I appreciate more and more every time I think about it.

Candace Porter plays Party Girl and she's the focal point throughout although she doesn't get a single line of dialogue. It's surprising to find that this is her only credit at IMDb: it's not the usual debut performance and it's not the usual final performance either. Presumably she was just the right girl at the right time, channelling a Sally Field air as she massacres monsters. Then again, I've never seen Sally Field cut off a man's dick and feed it to him. Initially I felt that her lack of dialogue helped the mystique of her character but didn't help the story, with too many scenes just slow motion and gore, albeit capably done gore. I wanted more iconography. It's only later when we realise who the story is all about that we realise why it was shot this way and it stands up well to repeat viewings, partly because of the peripheral nature of Porter's performance. She does precisely what she's tasked with doing and she does it capably.

All the dialogue goes to Tom Young, who delivers it well, even before we realise his perspective. The words come from Dustin LaValley though, who wrote the source short story, to be found in a collection called Lowlife Underdogs, which I really should check out. If this is anything to go by, it should be a subversive glimpse into urban mythology, gritty and noirish and darkly delicious. That's a lot of compliments to throw at something I haven't read yet, but I have the impression that this isn't really a film, it's more dark poetry as performance art. Having the author killed off by Party Girl speaks volumes. Shooting it in an abandoned brothel in Corsicana, Texas does too and the bum that pissed on the set just added colour. While this initially feels like a collection of gore effects, capably done by Evil John Mays but often obscured in grainy footage and overdone red lighting, it really isn't about anything but feel and tone and that realisation elevates it.


Unknown said...

Hey man, thanks for the review! Nice job!


Unknown said...

If serial killers looked like this the world would be a much more interesting place. In reality, they don't. Ludicrous film, intriguing actress.