vicious fun | cody calahan | james villeneuve | evan marsh | amber goldfarb | ari millen | slasher | homage | comedy | canada | history | julian richings | robert maillet | sean baek | david koechner | alexa rose steele | kristopher bowman | mark gibson | joe bostick
Film: Vicious Fun
Director: Cody Calahan
Writer: James Villeneuve
Starring: Evan Marsh, Amber Goldfarb and Ari Millen
This was a movie that I originally heard about from a podcast. I’m not entirely sure which one, but it was on my list of movies to see for 2021. I do know though that Crystal, who cuts my hair, recommended it and I hadn’t seen it, so she followed up with me as well. I decided to stop putting it off and give it a go. The synopsis is Joel (Evan Marsh), a caustic 1980s film critic for a national horror magazine, finds himself unwittingly trapped in a self-help group for serial killer. With no other choice, Joel attempts to blind in or risk becoming the next victim.
We start this movie off with a man polishing knives. He has a collection of them. He goes out to his car where he sees Carrie (Amber Goldfarb) using a payphone. She gets off and the man pulls up to her. He asks if she needs a ride and she agrees. Things take a turn though when she stabs him in the neck.
The movie then shifts us to a producer by the name of Jack Portwood (Gord Rand). He is being interviewed by Joel. What you gather is that Jack is a bit of a sleazy Roger Corman type director. Joel calls him out about his movies getting stale and tosses out an idea of what he would do. We get the idea here that Joel is a bit of a loser though.
He currently shares an apartment with Sarah (Alexa Rose Steele). Joel is in love with her, but she doesn’t reciprocate the feelings. He is bummed to hear on the answering machine that she is on a date. Joel waits up for her to come home and sees out the window that her date has a great car. She then comes in. She goes to shower and all but asks him to leave so her and friend could watch Falcon Crest.
When he goes outside, he sees that her date is still there. He’s using a payphone. Joel takes a taxi to follow him. It leads to a Chinese restaurant. Trying to be smooth, Joel sits at the bar with the guy, who turns out to be Bob (Ari Millen). They have some drinks as Joel tries to get the lowdown of what happened with Sarah. Joel ends up getting too drunk and makes a fool of himself in front of Carrie. The guy then passes out in a closest.
After waking up, he finds the bar is closed and locked up. There is a group that is having a meeting there. It is led by Zachary (David Koechner). With him is Carrie, Fritz (Julian Richings), Mike (Robert Maillet) and Hideo (Sean Baek). They mistake Joel for someone named Phil and allow him to join the circle. He soon realizes what this group is for and it becomes a terrifying attempt to get away. That is until Bob shows up and turns things into a nightmare.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap of this movie as I don’t want to spoil things. Where I want to start is that Crystal told me this film was a lot of fun and that I would like it. She wasn’t wrong. This movie plays with some interesting horror troupes and adds in a bit of humor. You know me though; many times horror/comedies don’t work for me. I like what this one is doing.
Where I should break down first though is the character of Joel. He is doing what I would love to do. He is a writer for a horror magazine. Now this is set in 1983, so there is that. Joel is a nerdy horror fan though. He has a crush on his roommate, but she feels bad for him. What I like here is that this is a troupe that fits many of us horror fans or us at least one time or another in our lives. Something else though is that they don’t lean into this too much as well. There are some cops later in this movie that holding it against him, but it is more to explain his morbid imagination. I’d also say that Marsh does a great job as this character. He feels like this nerd that is trying too hard. I also like the growth there as the movie goes on as well.
To get back to something I brought up earlier, which are troupes. The killers in this movie are pulling from characters from movies or real-life ones. Bob dresses and acts like Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. Fritz is like a combination of John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer. Mike is like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. Hideo reminds me of Hannibal Lecter and Zachery is like a government agent who does missions in 3rd world countries. He just enjoys what is doing too much. Carrie is interesting as well the more we learn about her. What I will say here is that these characters can be over the top a bit, but I think they all fit their roles.
The other thing with the troupes would be this being a comedic take on a slasher while still being serious. The comedy is there to enhance, not take over. There are stakes here for sure as these killers go after Joel. I don’t want to spoil what happens, but it feels like him and the other characters are in peril. If there is an issue here, the movie is too long. There is a lull in the middle. I understand why it is there, but it still bogged things down. The good thing is that it does get back on track for a solid conclusion for me so that did save it.
I feel that next should be the effects. Now this movie is a bit lower budget, so I was ready for CGI. What I will say is that this movie goes practical for everything that I could see. This movie has some blood and gore in it that I wasn’t expecting. To be honest, this is one of the stronger parts of the movie. I would recommend this especially to slasher fans.
To then just wrap this up I’ll go to the soundtrack, cinematography and the rest of the acting. For the former, we have this great synth soundtrack. It sounds and feels like it is right from the 1980’s and I dug it. The cinematography was also well done in my opinion. I didn’t have any issues there. Then I’d say the rest of the cast rounded this out for what was needed. Steele is attractive, but I like that we don’t get much from her. I should give credit here to Goldfarb. I love how tough she is and it works for the development of her character.
So then in conclusion, this is a fun movie. It is taking a sub-genre in slasher films that we don’t necessarily get to see a lot of fresh movies. This is blending in comedy, but not to the detriment of the movie. We have a solid concept and aside from a lull in the later second act, I’m with it the whole way. The character types we’ve seen before, but the acting brings these versions to life. We get good effects. The soundtrack is solid along with the cinematography. For me, I would say this is a good movie for me and would recommend giving it a viewing.
My Rating: 8 out of 10