Vicious Fun does exactly what it says on the tin. Just a few months after the release of his wickedly suspenseful horror The Oak Room, Cody Calahan sustains his momentum as an exciting voice in contemporary genre cinema with this cracking throwback to the scuzzy slashers of yesteryear.
Joel (Evan Marsh) is a gauche film critic who writes for a national horror magazine and doesn’t have very much else going on in his life. Free from any responsibilities besides turning his assignments in on time, he winds up stumbling into a place he doesn’t belong on one drunken night. He accidentally walks into the middle of a self-help session for serial killers, quickly whipping up a false backstory to survive the tense meeting. Alas, human nature unveils itself and he’s soon pitted against the deadly group of murderers, made up of an eclectic cast that counts Orphan Black’s Ari Millen, Anchorman star David Koechner and Killjoys regular Sean Baek.
An educated guess for the ensuing turn of events would be that the archetypal “film bro” would simply employ his cineliteracy to figure out how to escape from this gang of killers, who are responsible for 12% of America’s unsolved murders. But Calahan’s strength is in constantly startling the audience with unexpected twists, good comic timing and subversive characters. One such example of the latter is Carrie (Amber Goldfarb), a serial killer of serial killers who Joel will need to rely on for his safety.
Even when caught off-guard, one understands that the director’s creative choices all make sense within his cinematic world. The constant feeling of surprise contributes to a delightfully thrilling experience of comedy horror, which is further enhanced by a strong commitment to a retro aesthetic. The camera, editing and music choices are gleefully faithful to the style of 80s horror.
Sometimes, the twists can definitely take precedence over narrative or character development, as certain individuals are offed before the film has had the chance to properly convey their importance. But any other way would have simply made the narrative too predictable.
All-in-all, Vicious Fun delivers its titular promise by offering a sensational tribute to a beloved era of B-movies.
Vicious Fun is released on demand via Shudder on 29th June 2021.
Watch the trailer for Vicious Fun here: