This Ain’t your Momma’s Slumber Party Massacre (FANTASTIC)
Title: Slumber Party Massacre
First Non-Festival Release: October 16, 2021 (TV Premiere)
Director: Danishka Esterhazy
Writer: Suzanne Keilly
Runtime: 86 Minutes
Starring: Hannah Gonera, Frances Sholto-Douglas, Mila Rayne
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
This film’s review was written after its screening at the Fantastic Film Festival 2021.
A group of friends on their way to a cabin in the woods get stuck in a Podunk town in the middle of nowhere due to car maintenance issues. Not wanting to let that stop the party, the crew decide to set up shop at another cabin just for the night while they wait for their replacement parts to arrive. Immediately, they bust out the party playlist, heat up some pizza and brownies, and dance the night away before they have to turn away the guys from across the lake. It’s all fun and games until the Driller Killer comes out of hiding to finish what he started years ago.
A campy good time, Slumber Party Massacre is a sleek slasher that subverts gender expectations and performance without losing its teeth.
This reboot reads as a love letter and a challenge to the original and does almost everything better. The characters are more fleshed out, the director and writer are on the same page, and the script pokes fun at genre slasher cliches in addition to re-writing the material to appeal to the current wave of feminism. It also isn’t preachy about it either. These characters, both male and female, are real people that simultaneously lean into their caricatures. They realize when they are being ridiculous, when they have messed up, or when they overestimate themselves or others.
Slumber Party Massacre is structured differently than most other horror films like it. Each act is intense in its own way and plays out like separate interconnected slasher films, which is a really unique feat to achieve. It starts off like any other slasher film would, playing a straight yet goofy approach to the horror. It’s second act gets meta and goes full blown parody. It ends, however, as a darker and more frightening film that still carries the weight of all its themes with it. Honestly, it’s a remarkable feat to create a film as campy as this and still make it scary. I applaud director Danishka Esterhazy for making all the right choices in making this fun and freaky.
Female characters in slasher films can be well written if they are given the attention and development they deserve. Giving them agency and ownership of their decisions and exploring out of the box ideas helps films and filmmakers more than anything. Esterhazy and writer Suzanne Kelly flesh out the characters to give them depth beyond the stereotypes or simple resignations of being eye candy. They go further by deconstructing the way filmmakers show their characters by doing to men what has been done to women. The cinematography supports this entirely as it clearly mocks the male gaze. Once we get a glimpse of the male cabin the film transforms much in the way we have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of times only this time men are the recipients. Gratuitous ass and chest shots of men goofing around having pillow fights shows how ridiculous the technique is and how it does nothing to further character. For once instead of catering to the visceral needs of men, it flips that for women.
Pretty much everything works with Slumber Party Massacre. Brutal and convincing gore will satisfy most gorehounds looking for enough splatter to justify watching. The acting is largely solid with Reze-Tiana Wessels being a standout secondary character. Hannah Gonera and Rob van Vuuren also have great chemistry as prey and predator, with both navigating each role confidently. Little things are sprinkled throughout the film that make it infinitely more enjoyable because of how “in” on the joke we are. While it can get on the nose sometimes, it’s still hilarious and can even transcend the film’s central message. Gags like characters being named Guy 1 and Guy 2 poke fun at how little attention is given to some extras whose only purpose is to add to the body count. In the end, Slumber Party Massacre is a brisk slasher that gets to the point well and fast.
Slumber Party Massacre is another addition to the recent trend of incredibly fun slashers that are being made as of late. A crowd pleaser when it premiered, I know that I had the best time watching this feminist slasher revived on the big screen. Personally, I find it much more exciting and innovative than the original, but still appreciate that is holy ground for others. The ideas in this reboot hit harder and have more depth to them. Still, Esterhazy plays tribute to the original often by recreating gags and themes from the original without resorting to complete carbon copying. She knows the roots of this film and ensure they are taken care of accordingly. A great time for everyone, make sure you do not forget your invitation to attend the Slumber Party Massacre party this October.
Overall Score? 7.5/10