It will take a very short amount of time for viewers to figure out if Deathgasm is their kind of movie. It’s not even the copious amounts of blood and guts that might turn people off. No, it’s the fact that Deathgasm is unabashedly childish in almost aspect of itself. Thankfully, I’m not someone who turns his nose up at a movie that involves fight scenes where dildos and anal beads are used as melee weapons. When you have the kind of energy and passion that Deathgasm has roaring behind its sophomoric attitude, it gives the puerile tone an actual appeal.
That makes tons of sense when you consider what the movie is about: a group of outcast teens form a metal band and end up summoning demons who will bring forth the end of the world. To treat this with a serious outlook would do the film a disservice. Metal as a musical genre has always tapped into the youthful and rebellious spirit of its listeners, and Deathgasm celebrates that with reckless abandon.
What elevates the movie beyond its silly sensibilities is writer/director Jason Lei Howden’s obvious love of such horror icons as Sam Raimi, Edgar Wright, and New Zealand’s own patron saint Peter Jackson. It’s impossible not to see flashes of The Evil Dead and Dead Alive during the film’s numerous over-the-top gore sequences, and the hyperkinetic pacing and phenomenal opening credits makes Deathgasm feel like the lower budget, death metal version of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. In fact, I wish the film had played with the fourth wall way more than it does (there’s a great camera gag early on when the band is coming up with their name, but that’s about it), because Howden’s sense of humor definitely benefits when he’s as playful as possible.
That playfulness extends to a majority of the cast, especially the two romantic leads played by Milo Cawthorne and Kimberley Crossman (who are oddly both ex-Power Rangers). While Deathgasm won’t be winning any awards as far as progressive sexual politics are concerned, there isn’t a mean-spirited bone in the film’s body. Even when the villainous bully gets gruesomely dispatched, it feels much more giddy than it does spiteful. And though shooting eye-lasers at a barbarian woman’s chest to make her topless will probably offend a healthy swath of people, it all feeds into the boyish simplicity of the film and I can’t bring myself to get angry at such joyful immaturity.
Between this and Housebound, I hope we’re in the midst of a new wave of New Zealand horror. Both films are an absolute blast, though Housebound manages to temper its goofier bits with an air of classiness. But, I wouldn’t want a movie called Deathgasm to be classy. It’s exactly what it should be: high energy, viciously juvenile, and overflowing with applause-worthy gore. Considering that the world of heavy metal horror is filled with less-than-stellar entries like Black Roses, Monster Dog, and Trick or Treat, it’s great to finally have a movie that does the music justice. I give Deathgasm two devil horns up.