Tag-line: It’s summer camp. What did you expect?
Release Date: 2018.
Director: Brett Simmons.
Producers: Seth Needle, Justin Smith, Varith Yimlamai.
Written By: Covis Berzoyne, Brett Simmons and Thomas P. Vitale.
Cast: Fran Kranz, Alyson Hannigan, Brittany S. Hall, Jenna Harvey, Bryan Price, Patrick R. Walker, Jack Murillo and Sara Catherine Bellamy.
Running Time: 1 hour and 32 minutes.
Just like Horshack and Tommy Jarvis brought Jason back from the dead in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives the slasher genre is being revived by a whole new generation of filmmakers who are paying homage to the films from the seventies and eighties like Friday 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Prowler and others. Some have been decent, some have been great and others, well, they deserve to be dumped in Jason’s empty coffin and buried.
The exceedingly clever You Might Be The Killer is one of the best of the current crop of slasher films. Much of the credit of the film’s success goes to veteran actors Fran Kranz (The Cabin in the Woods, Dollhouse, and The Village) and Alyson Hannigan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame playing Chuck. The entire film hinges on their back and forth conversation, which perhaps rates as the most expensive long distance call in human history.
Head camp counselor Sam (Kranz) finds himself in a wee spot of trouble when his employees start getting bumped off in the most gruesome of ways by a masked killer wielding a machete. Sound familiar? It should because that’s the point. Experiencing strange blackouts and with only a handful of survivors left alive, Sam begins to wonder what part he played in the bloodbath and if he in fact could be the killer?
On the phone with him while attending to customers in a comic book store, Chuck assists her friend Sam in firstly, staying alive and secondly, remembering what the heck happened and why. Chuck, who seems to have a thing for Sam, is a horror film fanatic so her advice about strategies to stay alive, the killer’s possible motivation, the final girl scenario and what could be causing Sam’s blackouts come in handy for a bewildered and befuddled Sam.
Chuck’s character is also important as the producers use her to impart a lot of the film’s in-jokes and witty references, which fans will really appreciate. There is also an amusing body count meter which made my job easier and harder based on the twists in the story, and there are several, let me tell you.
The kills themselves are inspired by Friday 13th with bloody beheadings, machete mayhem and all of those imaginative kills that the slasher genre made famous. Pamela, Jason, Cropsy and Angela would be very proud indeed.
What also takes You Might Be The Killer to another level is the mythology surrounding the mysterious Woodcarver Killer. The tale involving a cursed town, evil spirits and woodcarver could have easily been the centrepiece of new franchise and perhaps it will be if this faithful slasher homage spawns a sequel.
While You Might Be The Killer’s take on your typical slasher formula is unique with the focus being flipped from the victims on the run to the potential killer backed into a corner, the idea of a perplexed protagonist believing they themselves might be the evil they are being tormented by, is not. Memento, Shutter Island, The Bourne Identity, Dark City and others all used this plot device very effectively. Although not to the same scale or depth, While You Might Be The Killer does as well. Fran Kranz does such a good job of portraying Sam as a sympathetic figure that you are really not sure whether he is a demented madman deceiving himself or is just a really nice guy being bullied by his guilty conscience into taking the blame for something he didn’t and could never do.
You Might Be The Killer is such a great tribute that it rises above homage status to stand on its own as a horror film that really slays. Plus, you have to give it up to any filmmaker who can get Keith David to do a voice-over for their film.
Throat cut, slashed to ribbons, hung upside down.
Stabbed in the chest.
Head sliced in half.
Drowned in a pool.
Stabbed in the chest.
Head repeatedly slammed in a freezer door.
Head lopped off.
Arm chopped off and stabbed in the chest.
Beaten to death with a shovel.
Machete to the chest.
Chuck: Exposition is my middle name.
Sam: Steve, the Kayak King!
Chuck: Being responsible for an entire summer camp? What could possibly go wrong?
Chuck: Is it an old camper who got teased as a kid and is back for blood or is it a parent looking for revenge after a counselor let their kid drown or does one of the counselors have a formerly conjoined twin? That could be a huge problem.
Steve (holding a canoe paddle): These are only to be used in the water. They are not for hitting people. It can also be used for air guitar.
Steve (to his students): Okay, we are going to point and laugh at Sam. He just fell in the water.
Steve: One thing, it is not a big deal, but they are canoes. Ah, don’t worry about it.
Sam: No phones. No shirts.
Pints of Blood