R.S.V.P. (2002) Movie Review

“RSVP” is a pretty original Slasher film — at least “original” in the sense that not a single Slasher film has managed to be original in, oh, the last 25 years or so. The film has a lot of points in its favor, including some excellent actors, a script that, although it sometimes suffers from diarrhea of the screenwriting software, is nevertheless snappy enough to be enjoyable. Then again, it does fall into the same trap that all Teen Slashers do — namely sporting a Fair Hair Lead that you can pick out a mile away, and who you know is destined to go mano-a-mano with our villain.

Written and directed by Mark Galluzzo (I refuse to type the pretentious middle name), “RSVP” stars Rick Otto as Nick, a handsome and socially friendly enough fellow, judging by his extensive list of friends. Before his college buddies leave school for the real world, Nick decides to throw a party for buddy Jimmy at his uncle’s penthouse pad. And where is dear old uncle? One suspects not in any place happy, judging by all the bad puns Nick keeps throwing around about his uncle’s current disposition.

At the party, Nick plays the gracious host — at least until it’s time to put his plan in motion. And what exactly is that plan? Simply put: kill everyone at the party and become a world-famous serial killer. For a guy who can’t make a commitment in his personal life (his girlfriend dumped him for his best friend) or his academic one (he’s in his 6th year of college), planning to kill everyone at the party and stashing their bodies in various nooks and corners is mighty ambitious. But sure enough, as the party wears on, ol Nick starts knocking the guests off one by one by one…

“RSVP” definitely gets brownie points for approaching the tired Teen Slasher genre from a relatively new perspective. It continues to stack up the points with some excellent performances, especially from lead Rick Otto, whose serial killer is equally slick waxing poetic about the art of killing as he is manipulating his guests to their final doom. Obviously it’s all a little farfetched that, even in a penthouse (which, by the way, doesn’t really look that big), Nick could kill and hide about 10 bodies before the designated Fair Hair Lead finally figured things out.

Which brings us to the script’s biggest failure. Even as Nick knocks off his guests one at a time, it’s not until Fair Hair Lead Jordan (Brandi Andres) stumbles onto the absence of a phone battery that Nick’s plan is revealed. Also (and this belongs squarely in the “Because it’s in the script, stupid” category) it’s amazing how Jordan, who was clueless up to this point, suddenly figured it all out just because she couldn’t find a battery in a phone. She’s either the smartest girl in the world or the script really took some liberties.

In fact, the film never really gives the victims a real chance to figure out what Nick is up to until that sudden (and wholly unbelievable) moment of “Eureka!” by Jordan. Not surprisingly, the film’s final 20 minutes are its weakest, with Nick chasing Jordan all over the penthouse for what seems like forever. The ending of “RSVP” feels rushed, as if the filmmakers painted themselves into a corner and really had no idea how to get out gracefully. Thus, the ridiculous chase and ending, closing out the movie with a whimper.

The other weak element is actress Brandi Andres as our Fair Hair Lead. Lost in the shuffle of a dozen other characters earlier in the film, Andres’ poor acting finally shows up in the Third Act, where she’s required to have her Impact Moment. It’s a miserable performance, especially opposite Rick Otto, who practically devours his lines and begs for more. For the stoners in the crowd, there’s plenty of “hitting” being done here, including a prominent role for the worst actor to ever luck into a movie career, Jason Mewes of “Jay and Silent Bob” fame, here playing — what else? — a stoner.

“RSVP” is good, but with a better choreographed final 20 minutes and a stronger female lead to pull off the emotional scenes, it could have been excellent. Some of the kills were weak, such as the nail gun incident as well as the deaths by cane earlier in the film. A broken neck and an offscreen stabbing with a broken bottle also enter the picture at some point. Not exactly anything that’ll make gorehounds jump for joy, but in context with the film’s “murder as art” theme, I suppose it’s fitting. And for those looking for some little T&A — sorry, kids, there’s plenty of teasing, but no action.

Mark Anthony Galluzzo (director) / Mark Anthony Galluzzo (screenplay)
CAST: Glenn Quinn …. Prof. Hal Evans
Rick Otto …. Nick Collier
Jason Mewes …. Terry
Brandi Andres …. Jordan
Reno Wilson …. Garrett

Buy R.S.V.P. on DVD