As 2018 comes to a close, You Might Be The Killer promise one last un horror entry for the year. A favourite at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, this Brett Simmons’ horror-comedy is the latest horror movie to play hard and fast with the slasher movie’s familiar tropes. But can Simmons’ movie distinguish itself from past horror comedies that have similarly looked to subvert audience expectations?
Camp counsellor Sam is being chased by a masked killer. His co-workers are all dead. To make matters worse, he’s suffering from headaches and blackouts – Sam can’t remember everything’s that happened. When Sam calls his move enthusiast friend, Chuck, she has some bad news for him. Sam may actually be the killer. Now he has to watch out for the only person who can stop him – his ‘Final Girl‘.
You Might Be The Killer Marches to the Beat of Its Own Drummer
To be perfectly honest, I thought I was ready to give up on You Might Be The Killer after the first 30 minutes or so. The combination of its almost smarmy hip self-awareness and manic pacing was almost overbearing. Director Brett Simmons can’t seem to decide what he wants to focus on early in the movie. Following an opening that immediately subverts your expectations of slasher movies, You Might Be The Killer relentlessly jumps back and forth in its timeline. We get a ‘Dead Counsellors’ scorecard onscreen that changes depending on what part of the movie’s timeline we’re on. Simmons’ frenetic time-hopping leaves some characters so underdeveloped that you may have trouble remembering names.
You Might Be The Killer proves to be a fun mix of irreverent slasher film storytelling and wonderfully gory death scenes.
But do not give up on this movie. Once Simmons allows the story to settle, You Might Be The Killer hits a groove. Eventually things slow down enough to allow he story to get a foothold. From that point onward, You Might Be The Killer proves to be a fun mix of irreverent slasher film storytelling and wonderfully gory death scenes. The movie’s dark humour and terrific practical gore effects are impeccably intertwined. There aren’t any scares worth mentioning but fans of horror movies like the Hatchet series will undoubtedly be pleased. The movie’s mythology is eventually so well developed that its frustrating first third are totally justified.
Is You Might Be The Killer Really That Refreshing?Several reviews have commented that You Might Be The Killer is a ‘fresh’ take on the slasher movie. That may be a bit of a stretch. It’s been over 20 years since Wes Craven released Scream, re-writing the slasher film rules. Since Scream’s release, several movies have adopted a similar meta-approach to horror. From Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon to the more recent Final Girls, horror movies have been winking at slasher fans for years. In fact, there are actually two horror movies with ‘Final Girl’ in the title. Even The Babysitter subverted the ‘babysitter-in-peril’ narrative with the same over-the-top meta-humour. At this point, audiences are pretty familiar with the slasher film rules.
At this point, audiences are pretty familiar with slasher film rules.
In this regard, You Might Be The Killer is actually treading on familiar ground. Even the movie’s appeal to 80’s horror movie vibes has been overdone. Just in 2018 alone we’ve seen Summer of 84 and The Barn, to name just a couple of examples, adopt 80’s aesthetics. No, this doesn’t make You Might Be The Killer a bad movie by any means. You may actually still appreciate this sort of post-modern hipness. Quite the contrary, You Might Be The Killer is good enough to rise above this familiarity. But its hip self-awareness is the least enjoyable part of the movie. I’ve reached a point where I’m ready to go back to some straightforward horror.
Fran Kranz Impresses Again in a Genre FilmFans of Cabin in the Woods will immediately recognize lead actor Fran Kranz. He stole the show in Cabin and excels once again in You Might Be The Killer. Kranz’s ability to balance goofball charm with an endearing sincerity to his performance is impressive. Even in an off-the-wall movie like You Might Be The Killer, Kranz actually draws in the audience and elicits empathy for his character. By the movie’s climax, it’s impossible not to care about Kranz’s ‘Sam.’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum Alyson Hannigan is also on-hand as the knowledgeable horror geek, Chuck. Not surprisingly, Hannigan charms with ease, making you wish she had more screen time.
You Might Be The Killer Is Mostly Idiosyncratic FunNot everything in You Might Be The Killer works as intended. Opinions are likely to vary about its early manic storytelling and familiar meta-humour. But the second half of the movie brings everything together and makes it worthwhile. There’s plenty of wild over-the-top practical gore effects for horror fans to love. And then there’s the one-two punch of Fran Kranz and Alyson Hannigan that should make genre fans happy. Overall, You Might Be The Killer is a fun late horror entry for 2018.
THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: B+