The darkly comic, blood-soaked thriller “Monster Party” is a throwback to the post-Tarantino ’90s, when violent characters were treated like cartoons and any picture with fewer than a dozen corpses was practically for children. The movie is pretty lightweight — disemboweling aside — but has a fair amount of punch, and it could appeal to connoisseurs of self-conscious pulp.
Writer-director Chris von Hoffman overstuffs the picture with premise in ways that border on the ridiculous but that come to an amusing end. In the film’s final 15 minutes, he has fun toppling all the dominoes.
Sam Strike plays Casper, a cash-strapped member of a home-burglary crew, alongside Iris and Dodge (Virginia Gardner and Brandon Micheal Hall), whom he encourages to go for a big score at a mansion where Iris occasionally caters. The problem? The owners, the Dawsons, are serial killers, struggling to stay clean in a Murderers Anonymous program.
Julian McMahon and Robin Tunney are good as the Dawson parents, as is Lance Reddick as their 12-step sponsor. When Casper’s heist goes awry and the family falls off the wagon, the actors show real zeal (even if McMahon’s exhortation, “Make the Dawsons great again,” is a bit on the nose).
Enjoying all the slashing and shooting in “Monster Party” demands a strong stomach and a thick skin. Von Hoffman brings some admirable oomph, as well as a good understanding of the many ways that criminals — both poor and rich — exert dominance.
Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes
Playing: Starts Nov. 2, Monica Film Center, Santa Monica