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by Dominik Hartl

grade: 6.5

Although, nowadays, there have been so many similar films to our Party hard die young , one has to give credit to the young director Dominik Hartl – who has always been a horror fan – for having attempted, in his own way, a totally personal interpretation and direction.

Bloody holidays

From a first, brief reading of the synopsis, the feature film Party hard die young (original title: Die letzte Party deines Lebens), the third fiction film by young director Dominik Hartl, immediately gives us the feeling of something already seen, of a slasher with an interesting premise, but already made over and over again in the past. But will this really be the case? Everything lies, in fact, in the very way in which it is realised. But let us go step by step.

If, in fact, many, many times we have come across a group of young people on summer holidays, post high school graduation holidays or, simply, at highly acclaimed and overcrowded parties, the same situations can also be found in Party hard die young, in which young Julia (Elisabeth Wabitsch), after having passed her high school graduation exam, goes to Croatia with her long-time group of friends. Here, however, between one party and another, all the people she was with soon begin to mysteriously disappear, starting with her best friend Jessica (Antonia Moretti, daughter of the famous Tobias Moretti), with whom she had just had an argument.

Nothing new, then? Undoubtedly, nothing new. And yet it must be acknowledged that Dominik Hartl – who has always been a horror enthusiast – has attempted, in his own way, an entirely personal interpretation and direction. And if, in fact, at the opening of Party hard die young what immediately strikes us is a particular use of sound, with successful suggestions that easily hint at something very disturbing (a post-production choice, this one, unfortunately abandoned immediately after the opening), very soon the film ends up proving to be much more complex in terms of content than it might initially have seemed. Let’s agree: even in this case, the ideas are not particularly new, yet their inclusion within a project such as this one makes the whole thing much more interesting.

If we think, for example, of recent horror films like Hell Fest (directed in 2018 by Gregory Plotkin), we immediately realise the considerable importance of Party hard die young compared to the previous ones, both in terms of direction and in terms of the screenplay. The latter’s real strong point: a complex and never do-gooding or obvious discourse on guilt and innocence, as a result of which none of the characters really comes out really innocent, thus ending up immediately seeming closer to us. Not to mention the polemics about the authorities and their role within society (interesting, in this regard, is the role of Edita Malovcic, who once starred in Barbara Albert’s successful Nordrand, and here in the role of a cynical police inspector).

Yet this is not enough for a work like this to be remembered in its own way over time. And the main problem is precisely the fact that, nowadays, there are so many films that resemble our Party hard die young. Too bad.

Nevertheless, at the end of the screening, one consideration comes naturally: if young Dominik Hartl is, here, only at his third experience in the world of feature films and has already shown his brilliant directorial maturity – despite not always convincing screenplays – who knows what interesting surprises he will have in store for us in the future. But that, of course, is another story.

Original title: Die letzte Party deines Lebens
Directed by: Dominik Hartl
Country/year: Austria / 2018
Running time: 90’
Genre: horror, thriller
Cast: Marlon Boess, Markus Freistätter, Michael Glantschnig, Valerie Huber, Mijo Kevo, Edita Malovcic, Antonia Moretti, Hisham Morscher, Michael Ostrowski, Thomas Otrok, Chantal Pausch, Alexandra Schmidt, Ferdinand Seebacher, Fabian Unger, Nikolaas von Schrader, Elisabeth Wabitsch, Chantal Zitzenbacher
Screenplay: Robert Buchschwenter, Karin Lomot
Cinematography: Thomas W. Kiennast
Produced by: Gebhardt Produktions, ORF, Formula Film See

Info: the page of Party hard die young on iMDb; the page of Party hard die young on the website of the Oesterreichisches Filminstitut