Dir: Tomm Jacobsen, Michael Rousselet, Jon Salmon
5-Second Films, USA, 2015
Starring: Alec Owen, Patton Oswalt, Paul Prado, Brian Firenzi
It’s totally as stupid as it sounds.
In the KickStarter video for Dude Bro Party Massacre III, viral internet collective 5-Second Films explained that they needed the help of crowdfunding because, without it, the film would never get made. Given that the resolutely bonkers finished product is the third entry in a franchise that doesn’t even exist, that statement is obviously true.
5-Second Films create often hilarious and uniformly bizarre nano-narratives that have conquered a small area of cyberspace, landing a spot on TIME‘s list of the fifty best websites, and racking up enough popularity to have their fans help to fund their feature-length production. Because their name tells you everything you need to know about what they do, it’s only appropriate that their “cinematic” debut, Dude Bro Party Massacre III, is precisely what its title suggests. So whenever you find yourself bewildered by some incongruously dumb moment in the movie, remember that you knew exactly what you were getting yourself into.
Before the plot begins, the movie is posited – in a Times New Roman crawler, no less – as a lost movie from the 80s that some teenager heroically recorded on his VCR (the film itself appears to be shot on VHS to support this), shortly before the entire Dude Bro Party franchise was arbitrarily banned by Ronald Reagan. What follows is little more than a demented girl murdering a bunch of frat boys in methods inspired by their worst fears, so it’s essentially a Black Dynamite take on no-budget slasher flicks and a Bad Neighbours-esque riff on dude-bro-ness, with a hint of Stephen King’s IT thrown in to make room for inventive death scenes.
And they are inventive, and effective, which is the best inheritance from 5SF’s quickly digestible viral videos, through which they learned how to turn brevity into a powerful punchline. Of course, the leap in running time from 5 seconds to 5,400 leaves certain parts of the film’s humour wearing thin, given that most of the comedy comes from dialogue when it really shouldn’t. In their best shorts, 5SF balance aural and visual humour with unprecedented virtuosity, and the cherry on top is that their mind-melting jokes are delivered so quickly that you’re laughing well before you’ve realised that it doesn’t make any sense. They’ve carried this tactic through to Dude Bro Party Massacre III, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work, and it certainly starts to wear tiringly thin in places. (Because let’s face it, saying “I came” as you arrive somewhere is honestly not that funny).
Still, 5SF use the extended running time to flesh out their jokes and to try out different methods of comedy. Absolutely everything here is stupidly overdone, and certain jokes and motifs are repeated over and over again in ways that are deliberately stupefying and brainless. It’s “internet” humour aimed at people who giggle in bewilderment at Vine compilations, so if you find that sort of stuff funny, then you’ll find a lot to like here. It’s impossible to comment on the actual quality of the film seeing as it goes out of its own way to be utterly juvenile, but it takes a fascination of things that are unreservedly awful to appreciate Dude Bro Party Massacre III, because that’s exactly what it’s trying to be.
It’s tempting to say that the film is a satire of psuedo-Entourage-style masculinity amongst frat packs, but it feels as though even having your brain switched on during the film would be overthinking things. The best way to approach it is to revel in how ridiculous it all is, that the characters put on t-shirts just so they can tear them off five seconds later, that party rocker Andrew W.K. turns up for a cameo (because of course), and that there’s an entire subplot dedicated to a pair of police officers who fail to investigate whether the dude bros are actually, you know, bags of oranges. It clearly isn’t meant to be good, and I don’t even know if half of it is supposed to be funny, but at the end of the day, Dude Bro Party Massacre III is (kinda) worth checking out just for the sheer ‘?????‘ factor alone.
– Liam Ball