Slumber Party Massacre Review

Plot: A new contemporary twist-filled reimagining of the 1982 slasher cult classic just in time for Halloween. A slumber party turns into a bloodbath, as a psychotic serial killer wielding a power drill disrupts the fun.

Review: 1982’s The Slumber Party Massacre is a cult classic but not for the reasons you might expect. Written by Rita Mae Brown as a parody of the slasher genre, it was instead filmed as a straight horror movie replete with jiggling cleavage and scantily clad co-eds. Now, as part of their month-long Halloween programming, SyFy is premiering the reboot of that film complete with 21st-century concepts like true-crime podcasts, mobile phones, and more all with a heaping dose of female empowerment. Where the 1982 version failed to parody the slasher genre, the 2021 take successfully subverts expectations while still delivering a solid slasher.

Following the basic premise of the original film, Slumber Party Massacre opens with a group of girls having a weekend getaway at a remote lakeside cabin in 1993. As the girls talk about boys and have a pillow fight, they are put upon by The Driller Killer, here played by South African comedian Rob Van Vuuren, who interrupts their fun with his industrial power drill. The action is gory and succinct as the opening credits roll and we are brought into the current day for the main story featuring Dana (Hannah Gonera) and her friends as they head on their own girls’ weekend. Amongst the retinue are brainy Maeve (Frances Sholto-Douglas), ditzy Ashley (Reze-Tiana Wessels), and Breanie (Alex McGregor). Maeve’s younger sister Alex (Mila Rayne) tags along. When the friends get sidetracked, they find themselves in the same place as the 1993 massacre. Obviously, all hell breaks loose.

Written by Suzanne Keilly (Leprechaun Returns) and directed by Danishka Esterhazy (The Banana Splits Movie), this movie has a lot of twists and upended expectations. To divulge any of them would be a disservice as this is a far better movie than I expected. Drawing on similar themes as The Final Girls, Scream, and The Cabin in the Woods, Slumber Party Massacre is a solid satire of slasher movie cliches while still managing to deliver some satisfying horror violence. Yes, this film is premiering on SyFy, but it is much better than some throwaway B-movie. This is a solid horror movie with some really gory moments that do not pull any punches. It also revels in playing with genre conventions as there is still a pillow fight and the requisite slow motion nudity but done from an unexpected vantage.

Slumber Party Massacre is also much funnier than most slasher fare and it vacillates between being serious and pulpy, something director Danishka Esterhazy transitions from throughout the film. There are moments in this movie that border on porn-level bad acting, but I could not always tell if that was an intentional creative decision or just poor dialogue. There is one joke playing on the fact that two of the male characters are named Guy 1 and Guy 2 that feels like a bad riff on a classic Abbot and Costello routine.

It also deserves mentioning that this movie, without commercials, runs a brisk ninety minutes. With very little filler time, Slumber Party Massacre moves quickly through establishing the relationship between these female protagonists but doesn’t develop them much as individual characters. The backstory of the film really only gives us insight into Dana’s character with the connection between everyone else existing only to further the plot. This is a minor quibble with the story as it doesn’t impact the plot, but it does hold back the ending from working as well as it should. Slumber Party Massacre ends somewhat abruptly but it still works overall.

Slumber Party Massacre successfully addresses the male and female gaze, the Bechdel Test, and virtually every trope of the 1980s slasher genre. It works far better when it is in solid satire mode and wobbles a bit when it switches into a more conventional horror tone. Still, this movie is a lot of bloody fun and works thanks to an ensemble of likable actors playing characters you want to root for while simultaneously paying homage to the original 1982 movie. Slumber Party Massacre is a fun blast of gore that does a great job of taking social commentary and weaving it into a story about bludgeoning people to death rather than beating us over the head with it.

Slumber Party Massacre premieres on October 16th on SYFY.

Source: Arrow in th Head

About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been JoBlo.com's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.