It has been one year since Joan lost her husband. With the help of a friend, Michael, Joan puts together a series of dinner parties with old friends and colleagues of her husband. Unfortunately for the dinner guests, Joan and Michael have more than just dinner on the menu.
Murder Made Easy is a feature film debut for both director Dave Palamaro and writer Tim Davis. This thriller is a delightful little murder mystery entirely contained within a single house on a single evening. Crime lovers and Agatha Christie fans will especially love this film. It takes a classic premise of a murder at a dinner and turns it into a highly entertaining mystery that is also satirical and filled with dark humor. The film is even broken up in acts the same way a play is, each act being the set up and demise of individual dinner guests. This format allows for different twists and turns to take place in a way that keeps the audience guessing. There are various clues sprinkled throughout for audiences to find. If you pay close enough attention you might be able to easily see where the plot is going, but it is still highly amusing.
One of the most entertaining parts of the film is the various dinner guests. Each one of them is conveyed as horrible in some way. Some of the guests are annoying or obnoxious, while others are shown as being backstabbing and sinister. It makes the audience sympathize with Michael and Joan as they go through the motions before finally offing their next victim. Yet with any good murder mystery there are always bumps in the road and more going on than meets the eye.
The performances in Murder Made Easy can sometimes come across as a bit theatrical, but it works for the plot and formatting of the film. Jessica Graham (And Then Came Lola, BnB Hell) stars in the film as widowed Joan. There is something about Joan that is very cool and calculated, even during the murders. Graham perfectly balances that line of grieving widow and stone-cold killer. Christopher Soren Kelly (Infinity Chamber, Ink) plays Joan’s partner in crime, Michael. He is kind of the opposite of Joan in that he is a bit more spontaneous and appears to get more joy out of the killing. Kelly conveys this in a way that is unsettling, but also fun to watch. All of the dinner guests do a fantastic job, but the one who stands out is Emilia Richeson (Psycho Sleepover, Scumbabies) as Cricket. I love Richeson’s portrayal of Cricket because she is so annoying that by the end of this dinner you can’t wait to watch her die. Each actor, much like in stage performances, knows when to play the room more seriously and when to bring in more comedic elements.
The filmmakers made a lot of smart decisions in the making of the film to fit within the smaller indie-film budget. One way they did this is to set the film entirely in a single house, only using a few rooms in the house. This not only saves money on elaborate set design and multiple locations, but it is in keeping with the feel of old murder mysteries. The murders are also each done in a different way, giving the audience some variety. The kills are also wisely minimalist, most of them being smartly done in ways where there is no need for blood. These stylistic elements allow the focus to be on the characters and the mystery at hand.
Murder Made Easy is an entertaining murder mystery with some great moments of dark humor. It comes across as a delightful mix of an Agatha Christie novel and Clue. At times the plot can be a bit predictable, but not enough to take away from the overall enjoyment. Palamaro and Davis have delivered a strong debut feature film for audiences that will make people excited to see what they come up with next. The play-like format goes perfectly with the plot as well as the theatrical performances from the entire cast. This is a murder mystery you can watch with anyone, even your non-horror loving friends.
OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10