Any time I hear the phrase “in the tradition of the best post-Scream slashers,” I get worried that I’m going to completely hate a movie. However, this 2018 Austrian effort — known there as The Last Party of Your Life — defied that title and all the worries that it brought with it. This movie feels closer to the slasher’s Italian absentee father, the giallo, as its look, lighting and even appropriation of modern dance music within the narrative structure of those films makes total sense. It also owes plenty to I Know What You Did Last Summer, which owes a lot to Terror Train and Slaughter High.
Julia and her entire class have just graduated high school and taken a trip to Austria’s X Fest, which takes place on an island. Days of drinking, drugging and promiscuity form the backdrop to friendships being tested and a horrible secret that will cost more than one of these teens their life.
Directed by Dominik Hartl (Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies) is making a cover version of American slashers, but he remembers something that his domestic contemporaries have forgotten — how to build tension and fear within the actual stalk before the slash. I also love that this movie takes a bite out of the current generation, who keep partying despite the mounting evidence that someone is out there with a grudge and a horrifying need to obliterate them. This is also a movie that is enhanced by modern technology instead of being hindered by it.
With neon hues and foggy backdrops that echo the past of the genre while racing toward its future, I found a lot to love in this film. The only downside for some may be the dubbing, but Shudder offers the film in its original language if you have an issue with that. If you’ve watched enough Italian horror, a silly voice speaking dialogue isn’t going to stop you.
You can watch Party Hard, Die Young on Shudder.