Frightfest Glasgow 21 – Film Review – Vicious Fun (2020)

An early 80’s horror writer disturbs a deadly nest of serial killers.

Joel, a horror movie critic for a major genre magazine (a very thinly veiled Fangoria), is romantically obsessed with his desirable roommate. After stalking her latest boyfriend to a Chinese restaurant he ends up getting utterly shitfaced with him and blacks out in a janitors cupboard.

When he regains consciousness the restaurant doors are chained up and it has become the venue for a bizarre support group for an eclectic group of twisted sociopaths.

This spirited curtsy to the golden age of 80’s horror beautifully balances the bloodied fingerprints of respectful tribute and the synthesiser soundtracked formalism of parody. Crucially, Vicious Fun shows an aptitude for judging both tonal shift and a keen eye for the deployment of discernible tropes, the two most essential peaks in the vital signs of a horror homage comedy.

Retaining self-respect amid an avalanche of genre keynotes Vicious Fun fights hard to forge its own identity. Yet, it is at its best when it surrenders autonomy to its high concept formula. From stabby start to the elegant epilogue it siphons the vast reservoir of horror movie mythology and spurts it back in a flood of visual and verbal easter eggs.

Cannibal chefs, sadistic clowns, American werewolf fashion and a nailed-on analysis of final girl bylaws are just the tip of the in-joke iceberg. Even the various locations in which the mayhem unfolds are nods to staple stagings of yesteryear, gifting horror fans familiar bearings and a subliminal sense of situational Déjà vu.

The humorous twinkles are channelled through a combination of trenchant casting and a turbo-boosted script agleam with self-aware confidence. The darker horror elements are primed through well-staged practical gore and some genuinely twisted modus operandi. One of our illustrious psychopaths circumnavigates his self imposed murder limit by keeping victims on life support and repeatedly reviving and killing them. Finally butchering them in a crescendo of pent up stimulation in a sick retexturing of tantric sex.

Amber Goldfarb‘s kinetic turn as brutal anti-heroine Carrie is physically gritty and coldly sweet, whilst Ari Millen unleashes his inner Patrick Bateman with hilarious results. Both these performances are indicative of the equilibrium struck by Vicious Fun between vivacious impertinence and nasty nihilism.

Cody Calahan‘s buoyant and slick entry into the Canuxploitation canon is a total blast. Bespoke tailoring for packed genre festival screenings and midnight movie maniacs.

The definition of a crowd-pleasing horror flick, Vicious Fun does not betray the sly semantics of its title.

★★★★★

UK PREMIERE

FROM 6TH – 9TH MARCH 2021


Horror, Black comedy, Serial Killers | Canada | 2020 | 96 mins | N/C 18+ | Glasgow Film Festival – Frightfest Strand | Breakthrough Entertainment, Black Fawn Films | Dir. Cody Calahan | With. Evan Marsh, Amber Goldfarb, Ari Millen. CONTENT WARNING – Abuse, death, strong physical violence, blood/gore