BITS 2021: Vicious Fun (2020)

Vicious Fun (2020)

Director (and co-written): Cody Calahan

Cast: Evan Marsh, Amber Goldfarb, Ari Millen, Julian Richings, Robert Maillet, Sean Baek, David Koechner, Alexa Rose Steele, Kristopher Bowman, Mark Gibson, John Fray

Joel, a caustic 1980s film critic for a national horror magazine, finds himself unwittingly trapped in a self-help group for serial killers. With no other choice, Joel attempts to blend in or risk becoming the next victim. – IMDB

Being a huge fan of Black Fawn Films since Antisocial (review), its almost like I’ve been following director and writer Cody Calahan from his debut until now. There’s a few little gaps in the filmography however, its always been intriguing and/or fun premises especially when looking at the last film, The Oak Room (review). This latest film which also happens to be available on Shudder right now is very different from the toned down last film premise but still incredibly fun. I’m always a fan when its title sells exactly and much more as to what is expected.

Vicious Fun follows a 1980s horror fanatic and film critic for a horror magazine called Joel (Evan Marsh) who follows his roommate’s new boyfriend Bob (Ari Millen) to this Chinese restaurant-bar and ends up getting himself drunk and passes out in the storage room. When he wakes up, the restaurant is closed and he stumbles into a self-help group for serial killers and gets mistaken for the missing member, Phil. Right when the others buy his impersonation, Bob enters to question his identity and all hell breaks loose as this cast of serial killers start to go after him. As he finds a potential ally, tries to protect his roommate and gets caught up with some dumb cops, the night takes a very dangerous turn. 

There’s so much to love about Vicious Fun. The 80s setting gives it the neon-lit rooms to the synthetic soundtrack that accompanies the entire film. The cinematography here is fantastic right down to the setting of the restaurant from its set design. Vicious Fun also has this rather straight-forward plot but still has a little reveal to another side for its female lead, another serial killer at the group with her own little plan that gets slightly sidetracked played by Amber Goldfarb. Much like some familiar faces as the serial killers especially in the indie film world with David Koechner, Ari Millen and Julian Richings. Each of the serial killers have their own different style which makes it all the more fun to watch. 

The cast here really does need a detailed mention as they all come together to put together this wonderful slasher all combined in one whether its the emotionless thought-out killer Fritz (Julian Richings) who disguises as a clown, the tall masked sorority/summer camp killer Mike (Robert Maillet), the Japanese chef and cannibal, Hideo (Sean Baek), the handsome and smart psychopath Bob (Ari Millen) who is a master of disguise and the Zachary, the government funded killer. This crew embodies all kinds of slashers mashed into one film and gives a little bit of everything as they work together to get rid of their intruder and the mysterious femme fatale Carrie with her own little mission and seemingly turns on them to help Joel. These two are an interesting pairing as well since its usual that we would see the cranky male mentor with the scaredy-cat young follower and yet, this one changes it to a badass lady who really carries the whole situation and Amber Goldfarb takes on this role so well.

Overall, Vicious Fun is a stylistic neon-lit, 80s music filled, blood-soaked and gut-spilling horror comedy. It’s a ton of fun to watch and just an overall good time. The characters are over the top crazy and yet, wrapped up in this wild night is a much more grounded character reacting ridiculously but for some normal joe is also very believable. The horror and comedy balance itself out very nicely. Vicious Fun is currently available on Shudder. 

Fantasia Fest 2015: Antisocial 2 (2015) & What Doesn’t Kill You (Short 2014)

Back to back Black Fawn Films! Yay!

I’m going to level with you on this one.  Antisocial 2 was one that I was pretty much debating to see.  Mostly because the time was bad like I would need to see if I could arrange work schedules and what not.  But, I did manage after a few later nights at work.  Antisocial wasn’t exactly a mindblowing experience.  You can see my review HERE!  But while some may not have liked it much, I thought it was decent plus the ending was absolutely great.  The sequel had the possibility of being amazing.   I was a little baffled why Antisocial 2 would have their world premiere in Fantasia because it does kind of limit your audience.  But still, I was there 🙂

Before the movie started, it was opened with a short called What Doesn’t Kill You.

What Doesn't Kill You

After dying in a horrific car crash, two bullied teens reappear completely healed and must decide the fate of their paralyzed friend.-IMDB

This was a really good short.  The young actors here are quite familiar although I can’t pinpoint where I saw them initially, and they are very good.  The story was great and the whole premise of it was intriguing.

Now for the main feature…

Antisocial 2 (2015)

World premiere

Antisocial 2

Director: Cody Calahan

Cast: Michelle Mylette, Josette Halpert, Stephen Bogaert, Samuel Faraci, Jake Michaels, Kassandra Santos, Kristina Nicoll

A few months after the Redroom virus takes over the world, Sam is on the run and pregnant.  After meeting a lady, she gives birth and her baby is taken away from her.  Three years later (I think), she is trying to track down where her child is while trying to avoid being killed by the infected and now the normal people who regard people who had done the surgery early on to stop the virus as Defects and also want to get rid of them. When she runs into a little girl called Bean, her father orders the return and captures and tortures her in hopes of finding a cure through her believing that she is special.  All this however has a time limit. The Redroom Virus is having an update and Sam must escape as the facility hopes to find the cure before it reaches 100%.

Antisocial 2

I needed these few days to kind of put Antisocial 2 into perspective.  So let’s start from the beginning.  Expectations…you really shouldn’t have those going into movies.  What I expected from Antisocial 2 was a zombie apocalypse movie.  What I got was a drama/virus apocalypse movie with a little bit of zombies and a lot of talking.  I mean, I like talking.  I love movies that get all talky and psychological and crazy and all that stuff.  I gobble that stuff up.  I guess what bothers me is that Antisocial 2 didn’t feel like a horror.  Or like its  generously 50% horror. The first act had a few very effective jump scares and there was a decent amount of zombies.  They were done well. The second act of Antisocial 2 is where it drags out a bit.  It goes into this facility, trying to find a cure, knowing the Redroom virus a little more. Its a lot of talk between Bean’s dad, Max and Sam and these ominous scenes in the background while torture and whatnot goes on.  It gets a little dramatic more than scary even if the Redroom virus is slowly getting more revealed and the whole reasoning of threats and what makes Sam so special. The third act is when things amp up a  little more.  While its not exactly in the horror zone, there is more blood and it picks up the intensity for the final scene that adds a little twist to things and makes you contemplate what that ending was about.  The movie ended at 7pm but I think I made sense of it when I was in line waiting to get in for Dark Places later that night.

Antisocial 2

Is Antisocial 2 a bad movie? No. Its not.  It may be decently average. Its a little disappointing because of the direction it took.  In its defense, I get the approach to let us use another angle to tackle this movie, not what the expectations would be and let us get to know the virus and build a story with it.  The story works for the most part but the middle was just so slow that it was a little boring.  The story was good.  It was really the execution of it that I questioned a little.  Even the atmosphere works well for the most part making it mysterious and setting up questions. Especially related to the scene below 😉

Antisocial 2

Antisocial 2 does have pros despite looking like I’m ragging on it a lot.  The characters and the cast.  Michelle Mylett is fantastic resuming her role as Sam.  She is a complete badass just like we left her at the end of Antisocial.  Bean, played by Josette Halpert is also a nice young character that steps in and she brings in a nice dynamic to the story.  While our obvious bad guy is Bean’s dad, Max (played by Stephen Bogaert) is despicably villainous and you just can’t help to hate this character (as you are meant to).  I wanted to punch Max in the face a lot. His intentions were noble (I guess) because he really just wants to protect the few “normal” people still alive in the world and find the cure but the means and the ethics behind his decisions are horrible. This cast is simply awesome.  Mostly because of them, the story is carried well.

 Overall, Antisocial 2 didn’t quite go in the direction of my expectations and the second act does fall flat because it gets a little wordy and drags out but the opening and finale is done well.  It has some nice jump scares and the cast is very great at bringing the characters alive and carry the story.  Although I didn’t dive into a lot of detail, there are some very well done scenes that kept Antisocial 2 going.  If the ending suggests a third one, I do wonder what direction it will take.  I would look forward to it with an open mind.  My suggestion: if you did enjoy Antisocial, is to give this a go but toss out those expectations and let Cody Calahan take you on a very different approach to the sequel 😉

Horror Double Feature: Antisocial (2013) & You’re Next (2011)

Its been a while I haven’t done a double feature and these two movies probably deserve their own post but movie review backlog has kind of grown and there’s a ton that I wanted to do a write-up on and I haven’t.  Plus, Fantasia is only a few weeks away (really right around the corner) and I’m trying to not review too much because I just get tired and not want to do it.  Consider this a little break but also a little exercise on reviewing horror since I haven’t done it in a little while.

Let’s check out these two: Antisocial and You’re Next! 🙂

Antisocial (2013)

antisocial

Director: Cody Calahan

Cast: Michelle Mylett, Cody Thompson, Adam Christie, Ana Alic, Romaine Waite, Ry Barrett

On New Year’s Eve, a mysterious epidemic sweeps the world.  Five friends who get together for a house party end up caught in the mess and locked inside. As they research the virus on their phones and laptops, they slowly turn from being paranoid to downright scared.  At the same time, the questions loom as they wonder who is hiding something, who is sick and what do they do next? Will they survive?

Ever since Fantasia Film Fest 2013, Antisocial has been on my radar.  I missed it because it had a 4pm showing on a weekday (if I remember correctly) so work took priority as it also overlaps one of the busiest times of the year for work.  Regardless, I grabbed a copy of it some time last year and have been meaning to watch it.  Finally, with my fiance on vacation, I got him to sit down and watch some horror with me (well, these two I’m reviewing).

antisocial

This is how it starts…

For the most part, I enjoyed Antisocial.  The acting and dialogue isn’t exactly great but then a lot of low budget movies usually aren’t.  Some ideas, especially the ending is kind of Resident Evil-esque where as the whole set up has that eerie Pulse sort of feeling to it.  I think until the whole idea of where the virus came from, it was pretty good.  It makes a statement about social media and the control it has on our lives while mixing in the “zombie/apocalpyse” genre and for the most part, it works.

antisocial

Sure, this is still focused on college students so there’s a ton of things you’d expect from some silly dialogue to inappropriate reactions but in general, I really enjoyed it quite a bit.  The lead, Michelle Mylett played her role really well.  And what I appreciated more than that was the whole build-up and especially how the shots were framed.  I never ever talk about this but I liked the whole atmosphere of it and what they were trying to do here.

My only issue was that I didn’t quite buy the explanation of how the virus works but then that ending (even if it felt a little overused) was a great set-up for a potentially better sequel and we’re getting one that will be released for Fantasia Festival (which I’m going to see) this year. There’s a lot of pretty negative reviews but I don’t agree with the majority of it.  Maybe I’m weird… Its not a masterpiece. Hell no, so don’t start biting my head off if you hated this but I enjoyed it.

Have you seen Antisocial? What did you think of it?

You’re Next (2011)

you're next

Director: Adam Wingard

Cast: Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz, Ti West, Rob Moran, Barbara Compton

When the Davison family comes under attack during their wedding anniversary getaway, the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of the victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back. – IMDB

Before we start this review, to justify myself a little, I have seen The Guest.  I just never got around to reviewing it.  But then, why would you need it, right? All of you lovely reviewers have already done a fabulous job of it.  I liked it a lot.  The style, the music and Dan Stevens and Maika Monroe and the atmosphere, everything was done really well.  So, when it came time that I saw You’re Next on sale shortly after I saw The Guest, I picked it up.  My only issue: as much as a lot of you think The Strangers was a great movie.  That movie ruined home invasion movies for me.  What works for the first half doesn’t when it starts feeling repetitive and that ending was horrible.  BUT, we’re not here for The Strangers and that is the closest I will come to watching/reviewing that one again.  Point is, I get a little nervous when it comes to home invasion movies because they can be boring and dragged out.  So here I am, hoping that You’re Next lives up to the hype that its got. If it has a fraction of The Guest’s style and atmosphere, we’re in for an awesome ride already 😉

you're next

 

Man, I ramble a lot. You’re Next is a neat little film.  I’m still not so sure whether the masks creeped me out, because I don’t think it did but the first half of the story building for that plot twist was really good.  It was predictable but I took the bait and still got all tensed up in a few scenes.  What makes home invasions effective (for me) are the unknown and unpredictability and here, you don’t know much about these animal masked invaders.  Not that this house had any peace as is since the family had obvious problems already.  Whats nice about You’re Next is the story.  This family has layers and layers.  They each have their issues and their personalities all make up for the choices they make as they approach this group of invaders who have an intricate plan.

you're next

I always wonder why invasions usually have 3 person team.  I just wonder if that structure works the best.  Or did this one have four? Man, I’m getting confused but You’re Next is pretty good and the plot itself is quite creative.  The best part is that our main character here, Erin, played by Sharni Vinson is super badass.  I mean, it really came out of nowhere.  It mixed a good bit of blood and gore with some creepy atmospheric moments that just sent a few chills down my spine.  Plus, there’s always something going on and it keeps the whole tense movie experience going and that worked effectively for this one.

You’re Next is definitely a good little horror and revives my interest in home invasion horror all over again 🙂

Have you seen You’re Next? Likes/dislikes?