I suppose it’s no longer accurate to say horror is an unloved, critically disparaged genre. However, for every Get Out there are 10 Ghost Sharks (or more), and much as we appreciate a certified fresh film, the schlocky shark films have our hearts. This week’s film wraps up a month dedicated to films that aren’t exactly award winners…and, inevitably, largely fall into the horror camp.
When he discovers his roommate’s boyfriend is part of a serial killer support group, film critic Joel has the unwanted opportunity to apply all he knows about horror movies.
Poor sad ’80s nerd Joel is a horror film critic pining for his roommate Sarah. While Joel has plenty of ideas about how to improve the horror genre (like a franchise about a taxi driver serial killer), he has no clue how to express his feelings. When Joel has a bad feeling about Sarah’s new boyfriend Bob, he takes the obvious step of drinking with him under false pretenses to figure out his deal.
If the ’80s sleazebag jacket isn’t a dead giveaway for the nature of Bob’s character, his creepy fake ‘stache is certainly a major hint. Joel gets too drunk to fully grasp the ways that Bob’s uncomfortable descriptions of women suggest not only sexual encounters but murder.
After the bar clears out, Joel drunkenly stumbles across what seems to be a support group meeting in the basement. He quickly realizes the support group is far from ordinary when the participants begin to describe their gruesome murders, ranging from creepy clown to sorority house killer and state-sanctioned assassin. Joel’s many hours analyzing horror are transformed into practical skill when it’s his turn to detail his particular approaches to getting away with murder, drawing on his taxi cab killer pitch for inspiration.
Unfortunately, when Bob arrives late to the meeting, he’s quick to point out the holes in Joel’s story, effectively blowing his cover. It’s then that the only woman serial killer of the group, Carrie, claims she should be the one to take care of this problem. Barricading herself and Joel in the bar’s kitchen, Carrie shocks him with the revelation that she doesn’t intend to kill him; rather, she’s infiltrated the group to out take out all of the serial killers in attendance.
As Carrie faces the difficult odds of four against one, will Joel find a way to at least do something that would count as useful?
2.5/5 Pink Panther Heads
This is fine. The ’80s horror ambience is great, the performances are committed, but some rather cliché approaches to the writing make me suspect I will forget this one before too long.
The script pulls from all of the worst parts of ’80s film-making in my opinion: annoyingly self-involved protagonist lacking any interesting personality traits, totally flat characterization (particularly when it comes to women), and largely predictable plot twists.
Joel is honestly so annoying, and while he does learn a lesson that stops him behaving as if Sarah owes him any kind of romantic feelings whatsoever, the film approaches this in a pretty clunky way. There’s also a rather nonsensical “twist” where Joel decides to become Carrie’s sidekick in the serial killer assassination business despite having no relevant skills. The mediocre white man fails up yet again?
Carrie herself is a badass, though she has no interiority whatsoever. And it feels very much reinforcing gender roles to have her as the only serial killer of the group who isn’t really a serial killer. It’s not even that fun to watch the actual serial killers get taken out as they’re surprisingly boring as well and none are particularly inventive when it comes to murder. I wish the elements of the film had been as creative and fun as the premise, but it ultimately doesn’t live up to its title.