Will Death Drop Gorgeous (2021) Catch You When You Fall?
Title: Death Drop Gorgeous
First Non-Festival Release: September 10, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Michael J. Ahern, Chrisopher Dalpe, Brandon Perras
Writer: Michael J. Ahern, Chrisopher Dalpe, Brandon Perras
Runtime: 104 Minutes
Starring: Michael McAdam, Wayne Gonsalves, Christopher Dalpe
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Dwayne (Wayne Gonsalves) has moved back to his sleepy Rhode Island home after a particularly nasty breakup. He begs for his old job back and is rewarded with a few random shifts at a popular gay bar. He is starstruck upon reuniting with Gloria Hole (Michael McAdam) a formerly A-list drag queen who has succumb to the changing times in gay pop culture. Upon his arrival, a brutal string of killings begin with no answer as to who is behind the slaughter. It’s up to Dwayne to get to the bottom of things before this killer comes out on top.
The epitome of pure camp, Death Drop Gorgeous is a much more charming slasher than it has any right to be.
The team behind Death Drop Gorgeous should be commended for making something enjoyable out of nothing. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t quite meet the mark for me. Shot on a shoestring budget, the budget of Death Drop Gorgeous shows. It is visually unappealing in terms of camera work, but it does bolster the DIY style of the film and the guerilla nature of the drag queen counterculture itself. The filmmakers do try to inject some style into the film. Bright neon lights, surprisingly intricate set designs, and many subtle visual jokes help elevate the film while providing some candy-coated sweetness to the visual experience.
The team of Death Drop Gorgeous leans into its giallo-esque bent on the slasher formula. It works well in the setting and allows for some interesting moments with the characters not expecting a death sequence. It tends to get too slapstick to be taken seriously. For instance, the drag queen humor lands often but the times it misses, it misses hard. It’s camp through and through, and it boils down to a matter of personal taste in the end on whether it works for you.
For a microbudget slasher, Death Drop Gorgeous executes its kills in a fabulous fashion. There’s plenty of smashed beer bottles, intestines, meat grinders, and severed penises to keep the blood and expensive drinks flowing. While the film takes a while to find its footing, once it gets there it keeps pace until its messy ending. The climax is stretched far too thin and wears its welcome rather quickly. It’s also set to an ambitious soundtrack for a film of this scope. Death Drop Gorgeous boasts several original songs that help sink the viewer into the gay club scene. Some are more obvious hits than others, but they all fit the theme very well.
Not without some form of commentary, this slasher tackles aging in the gay community, specifically gay men, and the dirty politics of seedy nightclubs. A real fear of many gay men is the idea of aging out of beauty standards. This hits one of the leading characters pretty hard as they struggle to stay relevant and content with their inevitable aging. Additionally, many of the problems in the club are exacerbated by poor management at the hands of the clueless, self-absorbed, and corrupt manager Tony (Brandon Perras). His decisions about protecting his image mirror the exact phenomenon in gay circles where problematic or outright awful things are swept under the rug.
Performances vary, with most of the cast over-acting, leading to caricatures of the people they are playing. For some, the cheese makes their character more enjoyable like Michael McAdam’s Gloria Hole, a drag queen fighting against the tides of current pop music and the next generation of queens taking over the scene. Some are more subtle, however, like Complete Destruction’s Tragedi, a reserved and mysterious drag queen. Despite the rough acting, the characters are decently fleshed out and surprisingly charming. It’s likely that my proximity to gay culture makes me biased, but the cast of cooky characters are quite charming with surprising depth explored in their characters. Sure, there are some issues with them, inconsistencies and poor dialogue choices, but overall they work well.
For what it is, Death Drop Gorgeous is a gay slasher film with plenty of heart despite its low production values. While it does have a few well-executed jokes, most of the film drags due to its rough script, drawn out death sequences, and over-the-top performances. It’s hard not to root for the film, however, once knowing more about the laborious and budget-constrained production stories surrounding it. I have nothing but respect for the team behind this project and hope they get a bigger budget to make something of higher quality. Regardless, that does not make up for the fact that it is not a particularly well-crafted film. If you are seeking out LGBTQ cinema or want something a little more schlocky to pad your evening with, look no further than Death Drop Gorgeous, otherwise you can sashay away.
Overall Score? 4.5/10