Cody Calahan’s latest feature has the makings of a future cult favourite. It’s fabulously bloody, gleefully self-aware, and thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. The plot sees Joel (Evan Marsh), an opinionated and socially awkward writer for a horror fanzine, inadvertently stumble upon a secret support group for serial killers. His night turns into a battle for survival as he faces off against five of the most highly skilled and blood-thirsty killers in America. To say anything more of the plot would spoil the many surprises that await viewers here, and that would ruin a large part of the fun.
Set in 1983, Calahan’s film leans heavily into the aesthetics of B-movies of that era. It’s clear that the director has a lot of respect and adoration for the genre, and horror fans are sure to appreciate the many winks and references peppered generously throughout the script. Scenes are lit with vibrant neons, the menacing synth soundtrack bears a striking resemblance to Halloween and Friday the 13th, and the killers are exaggerations of horror villain archetypes, all of whom are played pitch-perfectly by the cast. Every actor is well-suited to their role, but none stand out more than Ari Milen’s Bob. A Bateman-esque sociopath, Millen plays the part with such wide-eyed delirium that it’s impossible not to fall under his spell.
Joel’s night of survival steams forward at an energetic and bombastic pace. There’s barely a moment that passes by without a joke being quipped or blood being spilled – sometimes both simultaneously – with neither failing to delight. The blows hit as hard as the gags and result in some grotesque imagery (one sequence involving an eyeball and a scalpel is particularly hard to stomach), though the darker moments aren’t without their lighter side.
Whenever a film moves at such speed, however, there’s always the danger of skipping out on the details, and Vicious Fun falls into that trap. Some fascinating characters are (literally) axed before viewers can find out more about them. The killers are always the most interesting part of any horror film, and the flick misses the chance to double down on great characters. Likewise, important plot points are swiftly pushed to the background, never to be addressed again. Nonetheless, the ending leaves the possibility for a sequel to further explore the world that’s been set up.
Vicious Fun does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
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Watch the trailer for Vicious Fun here: