Movie News & Reviews

Movie review: With ‘Deathgasm,’ you get what you ‘ax’ for

Auckland, New Zealand, native Kimberly Crossman (“Black-ish,” “#TheAssignment”) stars in “Deathgasm.”
Auckland, New Zealand, native Kimberly Crossman (“Black-ish,” “#TheAssignment”) stars in “Deathgasm.”

Suburban New Zealand streets run red with blood in “Deathgasm” as demonically possessed neighbors roar and writhe in the torments of the damned. Into this chaos steps a dewy young blonde. And you know what that means.

No, you don’t.

See that firefighter’s ax she’s got slung over her shoulder? See the red stuff dripping from its blade? See the authority with which she brings it down on a demon’s skull?

Not your expected shrieking victim, that young woman. Not your ordinary fright show, this “Deathgasm.”

What we have here is an unhinged horror comedy in the sanguinary Kiwi tradition of Peter Jackson’s epic 1992 gorefest “Dead Alive.” In interviews, writer-director Jason Lei Howden has made no secret of his admiration for his fellow New Zealander’s early work, before Jackson became the moviemaking behemoth of “Lord of the Rings”/“Hobbit” fame.

Howden hasn’t Jackson’s imagination, at least so far, but in his debut feature he does definitely display an affinity for splatter.

The ax-wielding blonde Medina (Kimberley Crossman) is actually the third most important character in the picture. Heading the cast are Milo Cawthorne and James Blake, playing a pair of teenage headbanger heavy metal music fans who stumble onto an ancient piece of satanic sheet music that, when played by their garage band, unleashes the forces of hell and turns their neighbors into monsters.

Teen angst finds an outlet, suburban conformity gets skewered (literally, with chain saws), heads roll and limbs are lopped.

Sweet-natured Medina is sweet on classmate Brodie (Cawthorne), but when the craziness starts, she discovers within herself an unexpected aptitude for gore. She proudly comes up with a “cool one-liner” for her new line of work: “You were axing for that.”


out of 5

Cast: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake and Kimberley Crossman.

Director: Jason Lei Howden.

Running time: 1:26.

Rated: R, for gore, violence, nudity, language.