Party Hard, Die Young is, by the director’s own admission, heavily influenced by two of my favorite films, Wes Craven’s Scream, and Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. It also has twinges of I Know What You Did Last Summer as well.
While Party Hard, Die Young could, without examination, be listed as an Austrian parody of American horror films, it’s so much more than that. It does have an extremely American feel to it for being a foreign film, but the twist is something that reminds me a bit of a device that would be used by famed Austrian director, Michael Haneke. The film is bright and wild while also being dark and bleak, which distinguishes itself from the films it’s (sort of) parodying.
“…it doesn’t take long before kids in this select group start disappearing.”
Party Hard, Die Young takes place (and was shot) in Croatia during a huge annual EDM festival for high school seniors throughout Europe. A group of longtime friends, who are obviously part of the popular crowd, attend the festival together. We have Julia and her best friend Jessica, Luki, Cheesey, Andi, Carmen, Lexi, Sammy, Leo, and Denise. They’re psyched to spend the week on the beach, partying, drinking, and doing drugs like all the other kids at the festival.
However, it doesn’t take long before kids in this select group start disappearing. The first to go is Julia’s best friend Jessica, which gives Julia an extreme paranoia. The disappearances don’t stop, and it doesn’t take too long to realize that these disappearances aren’t benign coincidences. Instead, they’re murders. The rest of the film is a race to discover who is picking off the friends from this group, and why. The result is haunting yet extremely relevant to the world’s sociopolitical climate.
I enjoyed the juxtaposition of terror and the wild abandon of a drunken drug-fuelled music festival, which shares some commonality with Spring Breakers, however Party Hard, Die Young has a more solid narrative and zero James Franco self-indulgence. It’s a must-watch for anyone who is a fan of 90’s era American horror. It’s an extremely meticulously crafted, well written, exciting piece of cinema that horror fans will enjoy. It’s clear Dominik Hartl is a fan of the genre.
Party Hard, Die Young (2018) Directed by Dominik Hartl. Written by Robert Buchschwenter & Karin Lomot. Starring Elisabeth Wabitsch, Ferdinand Seebacher, Marlon Boess, Markus Freistätter, Michael Glantschnig. Party Hard, Die Young screened at the 2018 Brooklyn Horror Film Festival.
8 out of 10