Directed by Renaud Gauthier.
Starring Jérémie Earp-Lavergne, Sandrine Bisson, Ivan Freud, Katherine Cleland and Ingrid Falaise.
A psychopath whose murderous rage is triggered by disco music escapes to Canada and hides out in a girl’s school.
There have been slashers and giallos that have covered every sensible base when it comes to a killer having a particular quirk but director Renaud Gauthier’s debut feature Discopath isn’t a sensible film. In fact, it’s totally bonkers and yet it doesn’t show it to any great degree, having you believe by way of a dour tone that a killer whose murderous impulses are triggered by KC & The Sunshine Band – it could happen – is the most normal thing in the world and not amusing in the slightest.
Initially set in New York in 1976, Discopath follows Duane Lewis (Jérémie Earp-Lavergne), an awkward young man who has just been fired from his job flipping burgers after getting distracted by a customer’s stereo blasting out some disco music and nearly causing a fire. On his way home he meets Valerie (Katherine Cleland), an old neighbour from years ago who invites him out to a nightclub, which proves to be a mistake as once Duane gets an earful of those pounding basslines he just can’t help himself, and so begins a killing spree that forces Duane to run away to Montreal under a false identity and get a job as a caretaker in an all-girls school. All is fine for four years and then somebody puts the stereo on…
If you showed Discopath to somebody who didn’t know any better then it’s highly likely that they’d totally believe it was from another era. The costumes, set designs and locations come straight out of the late ’70s, giving us a glimpse of what New York was like pre-Giuliani and putting us right into the run-down neighbourhoods and grimy city streets. In that respect the film is very evocative of Frank Henenlotter’s early works, and the grainy look of the film and attention to detail only adds to the effect. The way the film is shot is also very old-school, ignoring anything that looks remotely digital or modern and sticking with practical effects, and the cinematography is excellent, capturing the mood and feel of those gritty urban crime thrillers from the era.
However, what makes Discopath work so well is that is never overindulges in anything, giving you just enough of all the different elements that make it up. The violence is brutal but never overpowering and only shown in small bursts, the gore is gross and unsettling but never excessive or shown long enough to allow you to desensitize to it, you don’t see any full frontal nudity but there is an air of titillation that runs throughout – you get the idea.
The few minor faults come with some of the acting, especially the grating Noo Yoik accents that plague the first part of the film. Also, once the pursuing Detective Stevens arrives in Montreal actor Ivan Freud suddenly realises what film he’s in and starts to overplay the absurdity of the situation, and in a film that plays it relatively straight despite being totally ludicrous it’s very noticeable. Thankfully the film ends just as it begins to do the same thing and become too aware of itself so it never hits that point where you say “This is getting silly now”, despite the fact it has been silly all along and you just didn’t notice. A real treat for B-movie/genre fans with a sense of nostalgia, Discopath hits all the right beats and is one of the most enjoyable horrors to have hit this year so far. And I didn’t even mention the soundtrack…
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★