Sometimes, rich people are the worst. In Monster Party, written and directed by Chris Von Hoffmann, we follow a trio of friends making it by through cons and break-ins as they attempt a heist at a Malibu dinner party. The Shudder exclusive thriller starring Sam Strike, Virginia Gardner, Brandon Micheal Hall, Julian McMahon, Lance Reddick, and Robin Tunney, brings more gore and psychopathy to the streaming platform.
After the eerily synth-waved filled cold open, three friends, Casper (Strike), Iris (Gardner), and Dodge (Hall), pull off a small break-in with Iris as the lookout and con in the front, asking the homeowners to save the Rain Forest, while the guys change the locks, and get into the safe inside. Now, each of them have their own reasons for stealing. For Dodge and Iris, the thievery is to support their future child, and for Casper, it’s all about paying off his father’s gambling debt.
When Casper needs more cash quickly to save his father, the trio decide to use Iris’ job as a caterer to pull off a heist of the family who is featured in the opening of the film. As they enter the party, it’s clear that things aren’t as normal as they seem. This is heightened by the fact that none of the trio traditionally belong in this space.
Furthermore, the antagonism is pointed toward Dodge, who is a young Black man in an interracial relationship. When he serves a group of the extra rich and drug-addled guests, they not only delve into chauvinistic talk towards his girlfriend but begin focusing on his sexuality and sex life with her. In a culture that hypersexualizes Black men and teens especially in regards to white women, this is a terrifying exchange and one that isn’t executed well. From the moment the trio enters the house it feels like something is about to drop. The tension builds seamlessly until a few minutes before the first kill, then it becomes very apparent what is going to happen, murder.
As the synopsis explains, the party is filled with “reformed” murderers. When the rich are serial killers, it’s rehab, and Milo (Reddick) is their life coach. That being said, even before the first kill, it’s apparent that the house is filled with Patrick Batemans and while it’s entertaining at first, the novelty begins to wear thin.
As explained above, the young male guests of the party are hyperfocused on Dodge and Iris’ intimate relationship and when he becomes the first killed, that is still the topic. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a black character be the first to die in a horror movie and after the constant objectification of him, it leaves me asking did he have to go first?
Especially given that almost everyone in the house has gruesome ends. It’s important when creating art, you notice and are aware of common tropes in the genre you’re working in. Add in the many homophobic jokes and the film quickly becomes stuck in the 90s and early 2000s.
After Dodge’s murder, the gore-fest begins. Iris and Casper fighting for their lives and making an ally of one of the “recovered” murderers. As the film descends into its bloodbath, with the exception of one death, it becomes extremely predictable. Ultimately ending with one of our lead characters become a master with a sword against men twice their size, which took me out of the film.
Overall, Monster Party is a hyper-violent horror film that lives in a by-gone period of horror in the worst ways. While the action is entertaining and the kills extremely brutal and creative, it isn’t much beyond that.
While the house is filled with uninteresting Patrick Bateman clones the characters of Milo and Elliot (Kian Lawley) are terrifying and well-acted. The two of them deliver performances that chill you in different ways and give weight to the violence.
If you are a fan of gore and creative kills then go ahead and press play on this Shudder Exclusive, but if you’re looking for more substance than that take a pass.
Monster Party is now streaming on Shudder.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.