Sometimes a films title says it all and that is definitely the case for Vicious Fun. A brilliant balance of gore and guffaws this self-aware slasher contains just enough of each element to totally entertain its audience.
Set in the 80’s we are introduced to lonely loser Joel (Shazam’s Evan Marsh) a film critic for horror magazine Vicious Fanatics who has some very strong opinions on the genre he loves, opinions he doesn’t mind sharing even when its with a movie director he is supposed to be interviewing.
Unhealthily obsessed with his room mate Sarah (Alexa Rose Steele) he doesn’t have the guts to tell her how he feels so instead follows her latest boyfriend Bob (Ari Millen from Orphan Black and Rupture) to a dingy Chinese restaurant and bar where he surprisingly somehow ends up hanging out with her well groomed, fast talking beaux.
Drinking far more than he should Joel falls asleep in the toilets staying way past closing time only to be awoken by the arrival of several strangers in the now empty venue. Stumbling into a meeting he finds himself face to face with a group of menacing figures who believe him to be their newest member. As the unusual assembly open up Joel discovers he has accidentally joined a self-help group for serial killers. Now he must find a way to fit in with the over sharing psychopaths before he becomes their latest victim.
With a crazily creative story by director Cody Calahan and a razor sharp script from James Villeneuve, Vicious Fun celebrates the slasher genre with its tongue in cheek references to our favourite films and characters.
The wonderful ensemble of frightening figures includes wild card Carrie (Amber Goldfarb), the cannibalistic Hannibal meets J-Horror Hideo (Killjoys Sean Baek), old school 80’s masked maniac Mike (The Strain’s Robert Maillet), clinical schizophrenic clown killer Fritz (Julian Richings from Man of Steel) and government sanction mass murder Zachary the leader of the group played by the amazing David Koechner from Anchorman.
Although they may be based on classic horror tropes the characters are in fact reasonably well fleshed out and as we learn more about what is going on we come to understand there is something bigger at play. The developing relationship between Joel and Carrie is especially well handled with both players putting plenty of heart into their performances, something you don’t expect from a silly sick horror flick.
A hilarious slasher for horror lovers everywhere Vicious Fun never becomes too meta for its own good taking the audience along with it throughout rather than becoming too pompous or pretentious. The actors are all top notch switching between the comedy and horror effortlessly and director Cody Calahan, best known for The Oak Room and the Antisocial series, directs both with aplomb creating moments of pure tension and terror as well as genuine belly laughs.
Flying along from from start to finish the limited locations are wonderfully utilised and the pace never drops even when the tale shifts from one setting to another. In fact the opening of the second act which is in a police station is wonderfully well observed featuring some farcical and witless cops commenting on the story so far and completely missing the point and the serial killers.
With big laughs and nasty gore Vicious Fun is a horror comedy that delivers on both fronts. The perfect movie for a festival or large scale screening its best enjoyed with cold beer, tasty snacks and likeminded friends who can grab onto every reference and cackle along with all the carnage.