Killer Pinata (2015)


There is a grand tradition in the horror genre of random and ridiculous things getting possessed; Cars , Sofas , even lamps have been so afflicted, to varying levels of success. So let’s skip giggling at the pretext (even though it is joyfully stupid) and instead giggle at how funny this micro-budget comedy-horror is. Also, at how wonderfully messed up some of the ideas in this film are, as this is an effortlessly inventive bit of nonsense.

The star of the show, as you would expect, is The Pinata itself. For about half of its screen-time, it is a regular, immobile pinata that I’ve seen on shelves in the UK. And yet, through some incredibly cheap tricks both audio and visual, Stephen Tramontana gets it to be constantly foreboding and intimidating. This is puppetry of the inanimate, and often immobile, that I’ve not seen since the amazing Rubber. Which, obviously, will make you chuckle. Even before the bits where it’s actually animated, it’s like a stalking, snarling, half-a-foot high tiger in your face. Thus, when it finely losses its shit, after seeing two of its friends being beaten to death in scenes Scorsese would be been proud of, you will be both terrified of it and laughing your arse off at it. And that’s before things get weird.

The targets of its papier-mâché and household tools infused rampage are all perfectly silly people that you’ll chortle at seeing brutalised. Eliza-Jane Morris holds everything together as is the main POV character, that’s sensible enough for you to empathise with and has a realistic, emotional plotline that is played for counter-point laughs. Lindsey. Lindsay Ashcroft gets to play Rosetta, her constantly thirsty best friend who simply has the best lines, Billy Chengary does a good job as Scott, Lindsey’s just-skivvy-enough -you’ll-laugh-at-his-mutilation boyfriend, and Nate Bryan as Chad, Rosetta’s hook up. They get slowly stalked by the pinata in the film’s one location, but not before you’ll have been amused at their semi-awful person hijinks.

When the mayhem does commence, there is an array of impressive low-price, high-impact gore on display. Blood, guts, and assorted damp bits of bodyness get thrown around with joyful abandon, generating the kind of meanspirited guffaw you sign up for with a movie like this. There are also a number of sharp left-turns into even extra levels of what-the-fuckery, which adds to its overall charm. Due to the tone/expectation-setting work at start of the film, the budgetary shortcomings of some of these effects are forgiven, as their inelegance adds to the humour. The crudity, bizarrity, and frequent implausibility of what happens does the rest of the work.

“NOPE!”

This is, as you would expect, lowbrow humour for lowbrow people. So, there are also skit-like scenes happening, led by the hyper-energetic Joette Waters as The Shopkeeper in the exposition setting thread and by the perfectly timed Steve James Price as The Dad on the situation setting thread. The majority of the film is the four twenty-somethings getting stalked, but the other two threads merge in perfectly at the end for some surprising twists. It’s all mostly nonsense though, with anything that isn’t a gag or a scare or a set up for either being considered excess to requirements.

This film was shot in 8 days, and it absolutely knows it. It doesn’t go a foot outside of crowdsourced, shlock-comedy-horror, production values and that’s to its benefit. The loose takes and poor lighting set the bar, and then simple film techniques used to great effect knock the bulk of the moments over it. Everyone is clearly trying their best and enjoying entertaining you, so you buy into the spirit of it. Then all you have to do is stop going “but why…” at whatever absurdist moment randomly crops up, again played explicitly for laughs, and just go with it’s adorable flow.

“Did I leave the gas on?”

Comedy is personal, so if none of the above grabs you then you’ll probably find little else in this film to give you a reason to try it. It’s exaggerated, silly, and happy to laugh at itself. But if you are up for something whimsical, and wilfully just the right amount of dumb, then this is a Treasure to be enjoyed and admired.

The Raggedyman

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