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It's just your typical birthday party Shirl (Melanie Denholme) and her
husband Steve (Philip Gardiner) are throwing for their best friend, Father
O'Brien (Robert Holden), who just happens to be a priest: Shirl is a
control freak who tries to over-organize everything, even if that's less
than appreciated, Steve has just bought himself a new camera, so now he's
hell-bent on filming everything, much to the annoyance of everyone,
then there's the typical boring couple, Nate (Rob Ireland) and Toni (Anna
Batho), who seem to suck the life out of everything, and then there's
Shirl's little sister Jess (Jessica Messenger), who really doesn't fit in
with the rest of the group due to her immature and slightly slutty
behaviour. In fact, she clashes with Shirl almost constantly, and it's not
at all helped by the fact that Steve gives her (or rather some of her
bodyparts) more than her fair share of screen-time.
After your typical
borderline-entertaining party games, many moments of awkward silence, and
of course the birthday cake, Father O'Brien gets to read his birthday
cards - including one telling everyone the cake they've just eaten was
poisoned, they've got one hour to die. But there's an antidote hidden
somewhere in the house, and clues to it are hidden all over the place -
but the clues can only be found ... by plaing more party games.
beginning, nobody takes this really serious, actually everybody thinks
it's just some sick partyjoke, and because of the card's insistance on
playing partygames, they suspect Shirl. Actually, they initially only put
up with this game of "finding clues" only to please Shirl, and
so they play pop-the-balloon, dress-up and the like, only to find more and
more tiny sheets containing hints. The fact that everybody gets
uncharacteristically hot and strung out though is the first indication
that something's not right, and when Father O'Brien's parcel contains a
container of blood - not what Shirl has wrapped -, well, that's not
a good sign. Toni is the first to have a complete breakdown, and now our
little birthday partyers have to come to the realization what's going on
is (literally) dead-serious. But in a panic situation like this, old rifts
between pretty much everyone break up anew, which certainly doesn't help.
they survive? And who's trying to kill them?
Shot entirely in
one take (though not in one shot, besides Philip Gardiner's hand-held
camera, there are a couple of hidden static cameras all over the place),
this film was entirely improvised over a skeletal concept by its director
- a risky experiment ... but it works just great, due to on one hand a
very solid and properly macabre concept that has a very natural build-up
to it, on the other thanks to an excellent ensemble cast who really bring
their characters to life and create a chemestry between themselves. On top
of that, the film with all its stupid partygames, boring conversations and
awkward silences ... is just creepy as hell.