“Like, the last thing I want, dude, is a bunch of randoms at my house.” So says Thomas, the sensible, awkward teenager and central character of this fear and fantasy fable, just before his friend Costa decides to spread the word about the party that is clearly going to become epic. Although aimed at those the same age as Thomas & Costa and shot with a found footage aesthetic, the story beneath its debauched teen exterior is so well crafted and contains enough humour to appeal more broadly. And if all else fails it’s probably a good sociology lesson for parents of teenagers who have a secret desire to know what really goes on in their children’s social lives.
At seventeen, Thomas (Thomas Mann) is neither in the cool set at high school nor a success story in his father’s eyes. When his parents leave him in charge of the house for the weekend – with all the rules that you can imagine a conscientious mum and dad giving a son – he is bullied by his smart and obnoxious brat-geek friend Costa (Oliver Cooper) into having a game-changing experience. While Thomas insists that a maximum of fifty people can attend (as long as they all stay outside around the pool – yeah, right!), Costa gets to publicising the party on the internet. At 9.20pm there’s no one there except Thomas’ girl next-door love interest Kirby (Kirby BlissBlanton). But never underestimate the power of the net: an hour later the place is bouncing with good-looking, fun loving bodies. But as the word keeps spreading, the booze keeps flowing, and other substances are introduced, the behaviour turns distinctly sour. There’s some kind of turning point when someone stuffs an overly aggressive midget in the oven. You heard right. From thereon it’s a crazy, grinding slippery slope to party hell.
If you don’t mind the adolescent male point-of view (read: constant objectifying of the opposite sex) there’s plenty to enjoy here. Matt Drake and Michael Bacall’s screenplay is both full of clever dark humour and an astutely observed sense of the complexities of wanting to be cool when you know it’s not. Director Nima Nourizadeh never looses sight of the core human story despite the sexy bodies and pumping soundtrack from artists like Pusha T. and Snoop Dog, and Jeff Groth’s editing is inspired. Most clear throughout is the hand of producer Todd Phillip who’s been in charge of a number of comedies about boys behaving badly, including, Due Date, School for Scoundrels and The Hangover. Enjoy the party.