Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Black, White & Red: Pandamonium (2020)

Pandamonium (United Kingdom, 2020)
Rating: ***
Starring: David Hon Ma Chu, Oriana Charles, Dani Thompson

A killer with a panda head. Well, I've seen slashers in fursuits so why the hell the not?

A pair of meek office staffs, Arielle (Oriana Charles) and Daniel (Will Jones), are starting their new jobs at a large law firm, albeit unprepared for the harassment and workplace bullying they'll be enduring from the quartet of coke-snorting butthole lawyers they're working under. Making their situation worse is that later in the evening, while working overtime in the midst of the boozehound four celebrating a possible senior partner promotion with cocaine and strippers, someone in a business suit and panda head named Jacob Jakushi steps in, overrides the building's security and starts killing people with a large kitchen knife. While spewing a whole lot of murder puns. Cringy yet smooth murder puns.

Going for an old school hack 'n slash treatment, Pandamonium (2020) does its darnest to bring the most out of the familiar stepping stones of straightforward bodycounters, giving us this easy to follow B-grade slasher flick with a quirky touch.

It can get testy to sit through the first half hour as it's practically focused on some of the lowliest yuppies this side of horror cinema can conjure up, out harassing staff and throwing entitled fits like drunken frat boys in business suits. Once the strippers arrive, however, it does get better as these girls are among the more amusing bunch out of the whole non-homicidal casts with their sultry yet close-bonded outlook to their work (which is less stripping and more go-go dancing, to be honest), as well as the fact that their arrival brought out a little development from our obvious final girl and, yes, marks the eventual appearance of our panda-headed killer, Mr. Jakushi.

Now, Jakushi is a strange yet fascinating maniac in the simplest term; he has the quips to rival Freddy Krueger’s in grating cheese and how constantly he blurts them out, but there's an air of softness and sophistication through his delivery and body language, making him a delight to watch and even a tad mysterious as we never did figure who or what he is. All we know is that he can do arrangements, "loves mixing business with pleasure", he likes to slice up strippers and he wears a contorted panda mask.

The limited budget meant that his spree killing does have its moments of cheap effects and obvious fake body parts, though the editing and camera work handled the rest of the bodycount well enough to keep it brutal, bloody and chunky with severed fingers, sprawled out guts and a second little head from a man presumably laying down and dead.

Further highlights include the hilarious opening sequence involving a misunderstanding between a hired dancer and a man tied in a chair, and too the climactic fight of our heroine against Jakushi, with the former going McGuyver on us with weapons made out of office supplies (that actually works!), capping it all off with slow-mo choreography emphasizing the implied rawness of the action before us.

Ending with a last shot that continues to question our killer's nature and opens potential sequels, Pandamonium (2020) is just simplistic fun for what it is; a slasher set in the office, offing people both deserving and not, all the while charming one-liners for us to bear.

Hehe, bear. I'll see myself out...

1 male had his throat cut with a knife
1 female knifed on the back, stabbed to death
1 male decapitated with a door
1 female strangled with a cable cord
1 female had her throat cut with a knife
1 male gets a knife up through his jaw
1 male knifed through the head, exits to jaw
1 female gets a thrown knife to the head
1 female knifed in the back
1 male castrated with a knife, presumably dies offcamera
1 male gutted with a knife
1 male gets a thrown knife to the chest
Total: 12

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