Posted on Saturday, September 22nd, 2018 by Matt Donato
Brett Simmons’ You Might Be The Killer is not Cabin In The Woods 2.0, but that doesn’t stop stay-up-late genre manipulation from scoring uptempo playground thrills. Remember Fran Kranz? Drew Goddard’s lovable cabin stoner with an extendable, collapsing bong? Travel seven years into our future (from the 2011 release), and he’s lambasting horror norms once again thanks to a massively viral Twitter thread turned feature. Dead serious.
You Might Be The Killer lifts from a satirical tweet exchange between online personalities/authors Sam Sykes and Chuck Wendig. That sounds like the makings of a cinematic disaster, but fret not. Simmons controls a splattery, wildly witty, elbow-your-horror-buddy-because-this-’ish-hilarious meta flick focused on sleepaway excitement. Friday The 13th from *maybe* the killer’s view? Inside man, style?
Find out more in our You Might Be the Killer review.
Kranz stars as Sam, a generic summer camp’s managerial head counselor. Opening night, before children run amok, Sam tells a haunting story of French Cajun settlers, creeping death, and a demonic woodmaker’s mask buried somewhere on “these very grounds.” Another counselor – Sam’s still-not-over-her ex – decides everyone should split off and “treasure hunt” for the possessed relic. Cue Sam running through the woods, covered in blood, disoriented because almost every single one of his counselors have been “slasherized.” That’s when he phones best friend and horror aficionado Chuck (Alyson Hannigan), who walks him through the dos and don’ts of surviving any slasher flick. But the question remains – is Sam the killer?
By virtue of “gimmick” filmmaking – You Might Be The Killer hinges on Chuck’s line of increasingly worrisome questioning and references to classic horror titles – Simmons sustains even after “reveals” demystify. Sam plays dumb, out of his league, while Chuck lays down every novelty nostalgia “rule” in the book. Background store posters deep-dive crazy hard into cinema, which gave me a chuckle when The Mask Maker popped up – a new-age killer icon none of you know about for predictable reasons. It sounds…exhausting? Although, in practice, Kranz and Hannigan’s chemistry – via phone, no less – subverts the horror rookie/slasher savant relationship with energy, proper contemplation, and Sam’s dazed ten-leagues-over-his-head charm.
Graciously, You Might Be The Killer hangs up cellular devices for stints of defensive evasion or flashback recollections doused in liquids-and-dummies gore. Some deaths are even unexpected. Banter lulls into a hypnotizing sense of schtick so efforlessly that we forget body counts bypass numbers to the point where the words “A LOT” flash on-screen until a masked madman splits some dudebro’s head clean in half. Blood spills like rivers from sliced necks and you might even earn a decapitation or two. But most important is Simmons’ devotion to practical slaughterhouse fun in a movie about the very core of slasher studios satire. When hunts are afoot, comedy smash cuts to limb-ripping grindhouse gore.
As legends unfold, realities take shape, Kranz’s performance attempts to rationalize and sympathize with everything from Sleepaway Camp to Maniac Cop. Hannigan undusts tomes scribbled with encyclopedic slasher information as she tries to solve her friend’s dilemma while Rings Of Saturn comic book patrons eavesdrop. Kranz, laying on the floor with his feet dangling in the air like a high school girl talking to her crush, recalls how Steve “The Kayak King’s” guts were spilled all over woodland brush. Hannigan’s darting eyes and cringy honesty, Kranz’s “wait, am I the killer?!” skittishness like they’re in a different movie than the random hardbody counselors who fulfill every major trope outlined in Horror 101.
Sidebar – the whole “Kayak King” recurring gag shouldn’t work anywhere nearly as hilariously as it does. One of the little magic ingredients that keep this indie horror laugher tonally aligned.
That’s everything necessary one should know about You Might Be The Killer before watching. It doesn’t rewrite horror history as Scream did, nor retread The Final Girls with equal energy, but there’s still an enjoyable dive into slasher normality worth any genre fan’s midnight scream. Maybe order a beer or two for this one? Crowd-pleasing horror with a roaring campfire aroma flipped upside down and hilariously mindfucked with just enough subjective damnation. RIP “Kayak King,” you were too pure for this unforgiving slash-or-be-slashered world.
/Film Rating: 7 out of 10
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