Of all the ingredients that go into the recipe of a good slasher movie, a compelling and menacing killer is the most important. Freddy Kruger, Jason, Michael Myers, Ghostface all have their own je ne sais quois. With b-movies, you need a premise that will hook the audience early and keep them invested. With Vicious Fun, director Cody Calahan drops an 80s kid into a room with half a dozen archetypal killers having a support group meeting.
I’d say that qualifies as both.
That’s pretty much the entire premise. Joel (Evan Marsh) follows the guy his unrequited love interest is dating to a bar, proceeds to get blackout drunk and passes out in a closet. By the time he wakes up, he’s locked in with several serial killers having a get together to let off steam and share notes.
Bob (Ari Millen) is a sleaze bag and a killer of women. Hideo (Sean Baek) is a chef and also a mask-wearing knife-wielding cannibal. Mike (Robert Maillet) is a giant of a man who wears a welding mask and enjoys machete-ing his way through campgrounds full of teens. Fritz (Julian Richings) is a psychopath with no discernable human emotions who enjoys poisoning people and dressing like a clown. Zachary (David Koechner) is a government agent who trades firebombing Vietnamese villages for the boredom of suburbia. Lastly, Carrie (Amber Goldfarb) is a femme fatale who may be more than she seems. Joel himself is just a kid. Kinda useless, a little creepy, and dressed in a bunch of 80s visual references (including a vest that he might have borrowed from Marty McFly).
Where Vicious Fun fails is in its humour. That’s not to say it’s not funny; Marsh is charming as Joel, and Koechner is his reliable self playing exactly the kind of character he usually plays, and Julian Richings is having the time of his life, but a lot of the jokes are mistimed or ill delivered. So again, it’s a nitpick that it’s not as funny as it could be, but where the film sings is with the various kills and effects. Calahan and everyone involved clearly love the horror movies of the 70s and 80s and pay homage to them throughout. Lots of brutal fights and hacked off limbs, and it is delightful.
So yes, it’s a little uneven, but in the end, Vicious Fun is both vicious and fun.
Vicious Fun is playing in person at Toronto’s Royal Cinema as part of the 2021 Blood in the Snow Festival Film Festival. It is currently available to stream on Shudder.
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