Uneven Horror Comedy Will Still Please Fans of the Genre
The counselors at Camp Clear Vista have been massacred by a masked maniac. Sam (Fran Kranz of Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse) races through the woods, enters a cabin and locks the door. Instead of calling the police, he calls his gal pal Chuck (Alyson Hannigan of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer) who works at a comics and video store. The nearest town is 25 miles away, and he needs someone well versed in the tropes of the horror genre to keep him alive until help arrives. As Chuck analyzes the situation she suggests that Sam consider a grisly possibility: You Might Be The Killer. (Don’t give me any grief about spoilers. It’s literally the title of the movie.)
Flashbacks provide clues about Sam’s possible involvement in the killings and gives the audience an idea of what happened to his eleven fellow camp counselors. Along the way the traditions of the horror genre are skewered right along with the young cast. Some jokes are obvious, and others are a deep dive into film references. As the survivors recount who died in what order, they reach the conclusion that it was Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice. (A little Paul Mazursky humor in a slasher parody, anyone?)
It’s well established that a horror film can be funny and scary. Unfortunately, You Might Be The Killer is too light on the suspense side of the equation. By revealing in the opening moments that everyone except Sam is likely dead, the film is robbed of any of its slasher film pleasures. We know the assortment of guys and gals we’re introduced to in the flashbacks are going to be slaughtered, so the confrontations with the killer suffer as a result.
The clever premise sets a high bar that the rest of the film doesn’t manage to sustain. Instead of providing a couple of twists and turns in the second act, You Might Be The Killer becomes too predictable as it enters the home stretch. Fran Kranz’s sarcastic Jason Bateman-esque banter is amusing in the early going, but wears thin by mid-film. And Alyson Hannigan’s continued presence throughout the film begins to seem silly even for a horror comedy.
Lower budget horror films are always a mixed bag. Most of them have poor production values and mediocre acting. But, occasionally, a little gem comes along that you shows you the power of quality story-telling on a budget (Dog Soldiers, Session 9). You Might Be The Killer does not fall into either of those categories. It lies somewhere between the two. Horror fans won’t be disappointed by the film. It will scratch that horror itch until something better comes along.