By the half-hour mark of Project X — a found footage flick about a teenage house party spiralling out of control — the film had achieved something neither A Serbian Film nor Human Centipede 2, with all their graphic depictions of rape and torture, could not. It offended me.
A celebration of homophobia, misogyny, lawlessness, mindlessness and the total absence of empathy, decency, intellect and good taste, Project X is one of the most disgusting movies ever made. Most galling of all: it’s proud of it.
The objectionable content begins almost instantly as scum-bag loser Costa (Oliver Cooper) stares into the camera and announces “Project X” with outstretched arms and a sinister grin. Essentially Jonah Hill’s character from Superbad but without any depth, growth or humanity of any kind, Costa — who calls all girls “bitches” and everyone else “faggots” — is perhaps the worst thing about this repugnant mess. Marginally less foul are his buddies J.B. (Jonathan Daniel Brown), a victim to a never-ending barrage of insults about his weight and appearance, and Thomas (Thomas Mann), a skinny, awkward teen whose parents are out of town for the weekend. Seizing the opportunity, Costa invites everyone who’s anyone from school to Thomas’ house for a party that snowballs into the biggest, most sordid drug and alcohol fuelled bash since Corey Worthington made Australian headlines.
Fatally assuming their audience are as moronic and morally reprehensible as their characters, screenwriters Matt Drake and Michael Bacall, along with first time director Nima Nourizadeh, opt for copious shots of bare-breasted teen girls over any semblance of narrative consistency: the found footage conceit, for example, becomes optional almost as soon as the party begins. The trio of lead performances make for convincing delinquents, although to say they each deserve to rot in prison, let alone hell, is an understatement. Less believable is Kirby Bliss Blanton as Thomas’ sexy female friend and inevitable love interest, although if I were cast in a role as shallow and thankless as hers, I doubt I would have put much effort in either.
Admittedly, just because its characters do and say sexist and homophobic things doesn’t necessarily make the film – or the filmmaker – sexist and homophobic. But what is disturbing about Project X is how readily it embraces and champions the repulsive actions of its protagonists. Not a single serious consequence is depicted, and the audience is left overwhelmingly with the message that what happens in Project X is not only acceptable behaviour, but the sort that should be imitated and encouraged. And before you accuse me of being out of touch, I’m a white, straight, twenty-year-old male, which basically puts me right in the centre of the movie’s target demographic. In fact, the notion that the film’s creators think that this is the kind of movie that I want to see is probably the most offensive thing about it.
There is a point towards the tail end of Thomas’ party where Project X nearly becomes compelling. As the police arrive and the party-goers turn without reason or purpose on the authority that exists to protect them, one is reminded of footage from the London riots, where youths revolted for no reason other than that they could. Unfortunately, the screenwriters insist on trying to make things funny, trading verisimilitude for ludicrousness again and again and again. A new low for Hollywood filmmaking in every imaginable way, the fact that Project X even exists significantly lowers, in my opinion, the right of human beings to continue as a species.