It’s fitting that Kiwi splatter-comedy Deathgasm introduces its characters with notepad-scribble-flourishes. You see, this film – which combines death metal fanaticism with crude humour and imaginative gore – feels like the product of a couple Year 10 boys giggling at the back of science class, cobbling together ideas in the margins alongside deeply-etched pentagrams and half-remembered Slayer lyrics.
That sort of unapologetic adolescence lends Deathgasm an undeniable charm, but viewed in the confines of one’s own home, that charm wears off quick. I can see why it was well-received at film festival midnight screenings, but without the laughter of a crowd to smooth over patchy plotting and sluggish pacing, it’s about as entertaining as listening to a couple of those Year 10 boys cracking jokes – which is to say, only intermittently.
Deathgasm wants to be Braindead or The Evil Dead; an admirable goal it falls sadly short of. The key to those films’ successes isn’t in their embrace of schlocky B-movie tropes, but in how they elevate them through either Raimi’s mastery of tonal whiplash or Jackson’s embrace of gleeful slapstick. Jason Lei Howden just isn’t on their level, but he seems like he had a bloody good time trying.