As the title suggests, David Palamaro’s Murder Made Easy is a film with a fondness for the macabre mysteries of Agatha Christie. Named after her crime story of the same name - but only an homage to the author in spirit - the film centers on a dinner party where murder is the main course, and the film’s blend of thrills, chills, laughs, and twists offers a tasty dish with a variety of flavors. Fans of Christie will find much to enjoy here, as will those who appreciate movies like Clue and The Last Supper.

The gruesome get-together is hosted by the recently-widowed Joan (Jessica Graham) and her friend, Michael (Christopher Soren Kelly). To honor the memory of her late departed spouse, the pair invite his best friends over for dinner to pay their respects. However, it turns out Joan and Michael have secret plans to make this their guest’s last meal.

The guests provide variety of quirky and entertaining personalities with their own memorable moments. First up is Marcus (Edmund Lupinski), a recovering alcoholic and academic type who cost Joan’s old hubby a promotion at work after having one too many afternoon cocktails. Next, we have Cricket (Emilia Richeson), a hippie masseuse/medium who refuses to eat at the table because it’s made out of oak, so she insists that they turn the dinner into a picnic on the floor instead. But what’s a party without an old flame who is also broke indie filmmaker? That’s where Damien (Daniel Ahearn) comes in, bragging about the inheritance he’s about to receive that’ll change his life. Finally, we meet Angela (Sheila Cutchlow), a psychiatrist and author with an inquisitive eye for details.

The characters in question lend themselves to comedy quite wonderfully. Tim Davis’ script is packed with satirical commentary and jokes which poke fun at artistic and academic fields - in particular, their cut-throat competitive cultures. Between murders, conversations manifest personal grudges and underlying disdain for each other. The material is smart and funny, but the cast bring their characters to life with aplomb and deserve a lot credit. The performances across the board are all here.

Granted, some of the humor will resonate better with those with some understanding of the professions, lifestyles, and topics the film touches on - indie filmmakers, academics, current events, etc. - but this is pleasing dark comedy that’ll tickle the belly of viewers with a ghoulish sense of humor. Take Michael for instance, who has been suspended from his job for writing a memo which essentially called for intellectual dictatorship and the death of stupid people. In a year where fascism has been a hot topic and a Google employee was fired for stating an unpopular opinion, the character is almost an encapsulation of society’s more heated conversations at the moment. The film doesn’t shy away from ripping on the pressing issues in subtle ways, which I loved about, personally.

Murder Made Easy recently won the Indie Spirit Award at the Women in Horror Film Festival, and deservedly so - it’s a charming reflection of how good DIY, independent genre cinema is right now. Smart, funny, and full of life despite being a story rooted in death, this is twisted little delight.