Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Party Hard, Die Young: Dead Austrian Teenagers

A little social distancing would have been healthy for this class of Austrian teens. However, this is the “before-times” and these kids are young, dumb, and randy. That is tantamount to a death sentence in slasher films. True to form, a masked man with a grudge will try to bump them off one-by-one in Dominik Hartl’s Party Hard, Die Young, which releases today on DVD and streams exclusively on Shudder.

Julia and her friends intended to party their spring break away at an EDM festival underway on a picturesque Croatia isle. Of course, the techno will come in handy muffling their screams. The island setting is also convenient, since the ferry to the mainland leaves almost never. When Julia’s bestie Jessica storms off after a fight, she makes herself easy pickings as the first victim. The guilt-wracked Julia is convinced something bad happened to her, but the rest of her class and the worse-than-useless cops don’t want to hear it. Unfortunately, as the bodies of Julia’s classmates start to pile up, everyone has to admit there is probably a killer on the loose.

Even by the standard of slasher movie teens, Julia and her friends are glacially slow to figure out who is out to get them and why. Frankly, once they do, our sympathies shift to the Smiley Face slasher. That is a problem, because the killer really isn’t very interesting, but his victims are just completely appalling characters. That includes Julia too. She is the only potential victim that gets fleshed out to any extent, but Elisabeth Wabitsch’s portrayal is still pretty colorless.

Hartl uses the hedonistic island setting quite effectively and Thomas W. Kiennast’s frequently disorienting cinematography well suits the pulsing music. However, the story itself is pretty standard issue. Sure, it is meant as an homage to 80’s teen-rippers and And Then There Were None rip-offs, but all the teens are basically cardboard cut-outs.

There are not a lot of surprises in Party Hard, but Hartl’s closing shot is darkly effective. For fans who are jonesing for a dead teenager slasher, it certainly fits the bill. For more discerning horror aficionados, it just isn’t special enough. Not recommended for the latter, Party Hard, Die Young is now available on DVD and Shudder.