Funny how we always fall back into the horror groove, no matter which theme we’ve picked. This week is no exception as we hang with some bad people in a very pleasing 80’s setting. What more do you want by way of an introduction?
I must say a fond farewell to this month’s anti-awards season films though, they’ve been an eclectic bunch.
VICIOUS FUN (2020)
Blood, murder and self-help.
Joel, a caustic 1980s film critic for a national horror magazine, finds himself unwittingly trapped in a self-help group for serial killers. With no other choice, Joel attempts to blend in or risk becoming the next victim.
Genre: Horror, Comedy ∙ IMDB user rating: 6.5
My score: 3/5 ∙ Runtime: 101 mins
1983, Minnesota. One moody night, a serial killer zeros in on a young woman out alone, kindly offering her a ride. She agrees but the tables are turned when he tries to lock her in his car, and she deftly stabs him in the throat, killing him dead.
This is our introduction to Carrie (Amber Goldfarb), an undercover serial killer hunter who has beef because of something deep and dark from her past.
Meanwhile, horror journalist Joel is interviewing B-movie director Jack Portwood for his magazine, Vicious Fanatics. He mentions his idea for a film about a murderous taxi cab driver but is soon dismissed from Portwood’s office for criticising his choice of shock value over suspense. Back home, Joel deals with the agony of unrequited love, witnessing his crush (and housemate) Sarah (Alexa Rose Steele) being dropped off by her sleazy boyfriend Bob.
On a whim, Joel follows Bob (Ari Millen) to a Chinese restaurant where they strike up a conversation. Bob, unaware of who Joel is, starts slagging off Sarah’s loser roommate, then leaves him with the drinks bill, another woman on his arm. So far a pretty uneventful evening but what’s a lovelorn boy supposed to do? That’s right: get blathered and make a complete nuisance of himself.
Unfortunately for Joel, when he awakens from his booze induced slumber, the restaurant’s closed and he’s been locked inside. He realises he’s not alone when he stumbles across a very unusual bunch of people having what looks like a self-help session.
The group wrongly assume Joel is Phil, the killer they’ve been expecting and welcome him into the fold. Joining Joel is unofficial group leader Zachary (David Koechner), cannibal chef Hideo (Sean Baek), co-ed camp killer Mike (Robert Maillet), sadistic clown accountant Fritz (Julian Richings) and… Carrie. They’re eventually joined by a latecomer – Bob.
Posing as a killer taxi driver, Joel doesn’t do a bad job in his new undercover role of serial killer but things go awry when his true identity is revealed, making him a sitting duck for the rest of the group. Luckily, Carrie is there to help a brother out, explaining her reason for doing what she does along the way.
From here not much will surprise you as Joel fights for his life, his love Sarah and maybe even a new purpose in life.
With moderately amusing consequences.
This was fun in places but didn’t go as deep as I’d have liked. I love the concept and wish we’d got more of the self-help aspect – and definitely more fish-out-of-water behaviour from Joel.
The idea of a horror nerd having enough knowledge of the genre to pass himself off as a true killer is brilliant and a bit more of that black humour wouldn’t have gone amiss really.
Apart from that, the 80s aesthetic is always going to appeal greatly. Throw in a fairly light yet blood-drenched plot and I’m in. Whether we’ll remember Joel and Carrie in a weeks time does remain to be seen though.