Hipster Holocaust (2011) – By Cary Conley

What happens when two weird strangers crash a party given by group of bored people? Why, it’s a hipster holocaust, of course! William Burgess, the writer/director/producer/editor of Hipster Holocaust, takes a page from the grindhouse features of yesteryear…er, well, more than one page actually…to create a weirdly unique film that’s part horror, part comedy, and part…just plain weird.

Two strange men crash a party put on by a small group of hipsters who, bored out of their minds, just decide to crash together and see what happens. Right away, one of the hipsters doesn’t like the two strangers, which creates more than a little tension; however, the rest of the group of partiers are either so drunk or so stoned that they don’t realize the danger. By the time the group does realize they may be in trouble, it’s too late, and the strangers have them all tied up and the real holocaust begins. Is it all just a sick joke? Is this part of someone’s plan to "wake up" the hipsters? Will any of the hipsters survive this horrific night of murder and mayhem?

As I watched the movie, it reminded me very much of Ruggero Deodato’s sleaze opus, House at the Edge of the Park (1978), which is also about a group of rich, spoiled kids bored out of their minds that are raped and murdered by a couple of lowlifes during a single bloody night. There is also quite a bit of H.G. Lewis thrown in as well, although the film isn’t nearly as bloody or sleazy as the aforementioned movies. Even the title, Hipster Holocaust, is a play on Deodato’s own Cannibal Holocaust from 1980. It seemed pretty clear to me that this is writer/director William Burgess’ loving homage to the sleazy grindhouse epics of a bygone era.

During the first half of the movie, we are introduced to the hipsters, themselves a bunch of lunatics that seem to just bumble around randomly doing nothing much at all. It’s all about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll; life is just a party to these hipsters, and they just move around meaninglessly looking for their next fix and a bit more fun. They take nothing seriously and no one takes them seriously. To be honest, this part of the movie dragged for me a bit. I understood that Burgess was trying to depict the characters in a certain way, and I think he succeeded. I just felt there was a bit too much set-up. However, once the party is invaded by the two strangers, the story picks up a bit and Burgess succeeds in creating some genuine tension and atmosphere in the picture. Ignacio Genzon plays Darren, the heavy in the picture, and does so quite well. He seems to have an undercurrent of mystery and danger to him, and that is only increased by the fact that the audience can feel it, but the hipsters don’t seem to catch on until it’s too late. We sense the danger almost immediately, but the hipsters are so self-absorbed they are totally unaware they are being set up. It’s much like the classic horror scene when the teenager debates whether or not to go into the basement. The audience knows that’s obviously the wrong move, but the character on the screen seems oblivious to the imminent danger.

When the holocaust starts, it’s not nearly as bloody as one might imagine. Still, the scenes are violent and effective, primarily for the gruesomely realistic sound effects and the sheer number of times each character is stabbed. The killers are gleeful and can’t seem to get enough. Nitai Cook stars as Patrick, Darren’s companion and is also effective as the silly but dangerously crazy sidekick. Darren and Patrick have a dominant-submissive bond, with Patrick as the submissive, and he is willing to do most anything to please Darren. He may have lost his mind by taking too many drugs and is constantly writhing and contorting on the kitchen table and the floor, hallucinating, tripping, but all the time lying in wait for his prey and for Darren’s cue to let the holocaust begin. The roles of Darren and Patrick parallel the roles of the two thugs in House at the Edge of the Park very closely.

In the end, the mind games and murder continue through the night until the two survivors find themselves duct-taped together with a space heater between them. The killers plan on roasting them alive. But at the last minute, as the sun comes up, the killers decide that these two hipsters are actually pretty cool and have enough potential that they should be allowed to live. This whole sequence happens very quickly and the ending seems a bit rushed and not entirely sensible. Do the killers have some kind of grand scheme? Did they plan on massacring everyone and just run out of time? Do they have some unspoken rule that the killing must stop when the sun comes up (as Patrick points out to Darren)? I don’t know why they ultimately decided to let the two hipsters live, but the ending was a bit of a letdown primarily because I didn’t feel like there was enough explanation about why the holocaust ended.

Part psychedelic 60’s, part homage to the 70’s, Hipster Holocaust is ultimately an uneven picture. While it has much to offer, the first part drags as the characters are introduced while the ending is perplexing. However, all is not lost as Burgess is able to create some genuinely creepy moments in the middle. A search for Hipster Holocaust on IMDb gave me these suggestions for similar films: Blood Feast, Horror Hospital, and Night of the Bloody Apes, which may inform the reader of just what they are in for when watching this film. If you enjoy low-budget cheese, give Hipster Holocaust a try. For more information, go to hipsterholocaust.org.