Teens in swimwear being slaughtered willy-nilly? Groundbreaking.

It’s supposed to be the “party of their lives.” But for Julia and her friends their graduation trip turns into a horror trip, from which not everyone will return.

The last party of your life.

Ugh. I don’t know how 90 minutes of slasheriffic action can be so boring but here we are. This Austrian whodunnit/teen horror doesn’t reinvent the wheel or even do much to entertain but it sure has some creative deaths and a truly heartbreaking (and relevant) motive at the heart of it.

Best friends Julia (Elisabeth Wabitsch) and Jessica (Antonia Moretti) are on their way to Croatia to celebrate their graduation. Along with their mostly douche-y crew, the pair intend to party like it’s 1999 before embarking on their new life together in Vienna. Oh, except Julia has secretly accepted a place at uni in Munich and hasn’t told Jessica yet.

Off their tits on stolen drugs, the girls argue when Jessica accidentally learns the truth – courtesy of a loose lipped classmate – and the pair are separated. Julia winds up slumped in the woods and has a vision of her friend being attacked by a man in a smiley face mask. The next morning she sobers up and is relieved to find Jessica back where she belongs, blowing chunks in their hotel room en suite. Except, the girl isn’t Jessica but another friend and Jess is nowhere to be found.

Remembering her vision, Julia and a male friend go looking for Jessica in the woods – to no avail. Later one of the other girls receives a text from Jessica saying she’s gone off with some dude and is absolutely fine, providing she doesn’t run out of condoms. Safety first and all that. Julia isn’t exactly convinced though and when she receives a Snapchat photo of Jessica with a cross through her face, she knows something is rotten in Denmark. Sorry, Croatia.

One by one the group are separated by a mystery killer and are knocked off one by one in grotesque but fun ways.

As with many films, all the male characters look incredibly similar to the point that I could barely tell them apart. In the end it doesn’t really matter. At the climax, after the usual cat and mouse games, we learn who the killer is and why he’s doing all this. It turns out that Julia and her dickhead buddies hosted a party a few years back and something unforgivable was done to one of their classmates.

*TW: sexual assault/suicide*

I won’t sugar-coat it: their shy virgin friend was raped by one or more of the dudes and killed herself shortly afterwards. The mystery murderer then – no surprise – is… her pissed off big brother. You can’t really fault his desire for revenge but honestly, I just wish he’d been quicker to get to the point.

All these kids are the worst and they all have horrible names, like Cheesy and Bogi. The fact that they are awful teen archetypes means that we don’t give two hoots about them as they are bumped off. Julia as the potential final girl doesn’t work either as she’s as culpable for what happened as anyone and refuses to take responsibility. I definitely found myself rooting for Mr Smiley Face and I don’t think that was supposed to be the case.

So yeah, this isn’t the best. There are many false accusations thrown around, lots of very wrong conclusions jumped to and the festival organisers give zero fucks about bad publicity or human life. Perhaps that’s the most accurate thing about it.

This is by the by, but there’s also some curious treatment of the token fat characters that bugged me. A strange sideline sees unskinny Carmen (Chantal Pausch) win a bikini contest and get crowned queen (of what I’m not sure). I think it’s supposed to be empowering but Carmen is later torn down several times for being too cocky. It’s almost as if, as larger woman she is worth less and there should be grateful for her prize. Later, a chubby dude is also killed horribly and nobody cares or bothers to look for him. Yet again little care or respect for the chunkier kids.

The only thing I take from Party Hard, Die Young (apart from the exquisite title), is the wonderful knowledge that I never have to ‘party hard’ again if I don’t want to. Fuck being around that many people.

Film details:

Party Hard, Die Young
Year: 2018
Director: Dominik Hartl
IMDB Rating: 6.2/10
My Rating: 2.5/5

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