Thursday, April 23, 2020
Bottled Threat: Party Hard, Die Young (2018)
Starring: Marlon Boess, Markus Freistätter, Michael Glantschnig
At a small Croatian island, neon lights, rave dances and free-for-all booze welcome in thousands of young adults to celebrate their last day of school. Among these party-fueled horde are our main gang of high schoolers, including besties Julia (Elisabeth Wabitsch) and Jessy (Antonia Moretti) who planned on going to Vienna in the fall and room together in campus.
That is until Julia's little secret got spilled by one of their friends, as it turns out she's actually going to attend college in Munich and couldn't gather the courage to tell her friend. Upset, Jessy pops in some happy pills and storms off, with Julia attempting to tail along apologizing and drunk until she starts to tire and pass out. Before getting completely tuckered, however, Julia seemingly sees a masked figure attack Jessy and when morning comes, her friend is nowhere to be found.
Believing something horrible happened to Jessy, Julia tries to convince the rest of the gang, as well as some of the island's officials to help search for her, but everyone is quick to suggest that the girl is simply out someplace within the island, still bitter about the argument. When Julia gets a Snapchat pic of Jessy with white crosses through her face, though, and a few of her friends start to die off or disappear, she is certain that all of this is far from foul play and it's up to her to find out what is happening before its too late.
In its core, Party Hard, Die Young (2018) is another foreign callback to the mystery-heavy 90s slashers, particularly I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) and Scream (1996), only with a cast seemingly consisting of late-80s stereotypes and strongly establishing its chaotic yet enticing tone with laser light visuals, strong rave scores and psychedelic editing. On a narrative sense, it's all the familiar slasher trappings we walked before, with a fair pace to feature in a splashy kill or two without ruining the momentum. Its simplistic approach on character, though, do draws a concerning shortage of likability among our main youths since the movie basically establishes most of them -may it be aggressive jocks, preppy gossip girls and creepy geeks- as just horny creepers and jealous broads who're easy to get on each other's throats when things start to go way South.
This is normally a movie's way of building up potential suspects or give us a reason to root for their demise, but with an approach so obvious and clumsy, Die Young practically had us waiting around these cliched red herrings on two legs to get moving and be arses before we reach a climax that only half works despite delivering on some messed-up scenes. (Like one involving two dudes and a wine bottle) It all felt rushed and methodic since they got all the juicy parts done and over before it even escalates properly, leaving a potentially thrilling finale wasted in favor of bad guy revenge monologues, too many survivors and a lackluster death for the villain.
All of this being said, Party Hard, Die Young (2018) grants nothing new to the formula (and may have even knocked it back a few years with its last act) but it does secure its rather impressive production and workable stalk-and-slash sequences as simple run-in-the-mill dead teenager entertainment that can be enjoyed on a shallow level. Yes, there are shortcomings, but the overall result is still eye candy, far from being completely unbearable of a watch, just hard to recommend to just about anybody. I guess if you're a slasher completist who has ninety minutes to spare, then you're free to give this one a run.
1 female attacked, later found floating dead in a harbor
1 female falls unto a pole, impaled
1 male gets a wine bottle shoved down his throat
1 female implied dead from wrist cut suicide
1 female had her throat cut offcamera
1 male had his throat slashed with a bottle shard