Review: Troy Escamilla’s Party Night

Party Night is the debut feature film from Troy Escamilla. It was recently sent to DVD and VOD via Wild Eye Releasing, which is perfect timing since his name is making headlines due to his new projects – Mrs. Claus and Teacher Storage. Shot under Fright Meter Films, Party Night follows six high school friends who ditch the post-prom party to celebrate on their own at a secluded lake house. Once there, they fall victim to a crazed killer one by one. With homages and references to iconic films including Friday the 13th, Halloween, Jaws, Poltergeist and Prom Night, the film stars Laurel Toupal, Ryan Poole, Tommie Vegas, Destinie Orndoff, Billy Brannigan, Drew Shotwell, Lawrence McKinney, Jimmy Phillips and Candice DeMeza. Campy and angsty in all the right places, Party Night is a fitting start for writer/director Troy Escamilla, and it’s now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and Target. Give this one a chance, folks, especially if you liked 2015’s Lost After Dark.

I’ve seen non-publication reviews of Party Night so far and, honestly, I don’t think Party Night is reaching the right audience. Most of these reviews are critiquing it for being an independent production with marginally un-enjoyable characters. For me, though, these are two of the movie’s biggest strengths. I don’t think it was ever designed to be the next great thing in horror, but it’s certainly an adequate edition to your Fall and Halloween viewing lists. It’s full of typical slasher film cliches, one-sided characters who end up on the chopping block, and practical effects that splatter blood in the most medically incorrect ways. What did you expect from a film that was put out to the masses by Wild Eye Releasing (I’m sorry, I love you!). Sure, the lighting in the exterior night-time scenes needed a bit more work, and the acting was all over the place, but Party Night is campy in all the right places, angsty and hyper-sexualized in the other spots, and an absolute gorefest. Throw in teenage drama and palpable moments of suspense, and this one was pretty good.

True independent cinema viewers are going to enjoy this flick, especially as we head into our favorite time of the year – Halloween season. The subgenres of horror tend to thin out from September through October; with the vast majority of viewings going to classic, iconic films and slasher films like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and Halloween. So, if you’re an indie slasher fan like me, why not give this one a chance? We have 45 days left until Halloween. Surely you can fit this movie into one of your time-slots. Produced by Troy Escamilla, Renee Smith and Kevin Sommerfield, Party Night features cinematography and editing by Derek Huey. The villain is pretty generic, but I got a kick out of watching him murder the teens with wounds that warranted gallons of blood. I also found it funny picturing him cleaning it up with a mop so their friends wouldn’t discover the bloodshed. But, that’s the thing, and that’s what people are missing. Party Night shouldn’t be taken so seriously. Mount Pleasant Lake wasn’t designed to be Camp Crystal Lake. Unplug your brain for a little over an hour and watch a new slasher flick from an up-and-coming director. Support indie horror!

Final Score: 6.5 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)