Horror Movie Review: Vicious Fun (2020)
Vicious Fun is a horror comedy film directed by Cody Calahan, releasing in 2020. Set in 1983, it focuses on film critic and writer of the horror magazine Vicious Fanatics, Joel. Joel is in the process of interviewing B-movie director Jack Portwood. He tells Jack his idea for a film about a serial killing taxicab driver but Jack just laughs him out of the room. At home, Joel sees his roommate Sarah, who he has a crush on, being dropped off by her new boyfriend Bob. Joel follows Bob to a Chinese restaurant where they engage in conversation at the bar. Unaware of Joel’s true identity, Bob speaks disparagingly about Sarah’s pitiable roommate before sticking Joel with their tab and leaving with another woman.
Joel continues to get drunk and accidently stumbles into a supply closet where he passes out. The restaurant locks up for the night. When he recovers, Joel wanders back into the dining room where Zachary leads a 12-step meeting for Carrie, Fritz, Mike, and Hideo. The group mistakes Joel for Phil. Sensing danger if they realize he isn’t supposed to be there, Joel plays along. He gradually realizes he is stuck in a self-help meeting for serial killers. Joel uses his movie idea about a killer cab driver in an attempt to blend in. He discovers Bob is also a serial killer when Bob returns for the meeting. Bob pokes holes in Joel’s killer cab driver claims until everyone realizes Joel isn’t Phil.
The killers argue over how to handle their interloper. When Zachary asserts too much authority, Mike, Bob, and Fritz kill him. Carrie uses the opportunity to lock herself and Joel inside the kitchen. Carrie reveals she belongs to a secret organization and is on a mission to assassinate serial killers.
Can they survive? Check out Vicious Fun to find out.
Vicious Fun is well, a lot of fun. The basis for the narrative is a nice setup for the entertaining shenanigans that ensue. You can really feel that many of the actors in the film are having a blast. Ari Millen (Bob) in particular is especially hammy and eccentric but it’s certainly appropriate considering the overall vibe of the film. Also, Evan Marsh (Joel) is very funny at times. As a horror movie critic myself, I couldn’t help but relate to him in some ways.
You can tell this movie has a modest budget but I felt that it was used well. There are a few moments of gore that look excellent, it’s minimal but effective. Additionally, the synthwave soundtrack is a real highlight.
Now, for some unfortunate criticisms. There’s a scene where they introduce each of the killers in the circle and give some brief information about them. I really do feel this should have been a show don’t tell moment because it would have been really cool to have gotten some kind of montage showing each of their escapades rather than just talking about what they had done. I found even Carrie to be a somewhat weak character as she suffers from the “show don’t tell” issue as well.
Also, this film needed a bit more fodder for the serial killers. Hideo dying so early on was disappointing. In fact, pretty much all of their deaths feel underwhelming. One of them is clearly supposed to be a Jason Voorhees rip-off and he just gets stabbed. I wanted more focus on the serial killers, more banter between them, more memorable deaths and gore but it plays it quite safe and steady.
Overall, there are issues but I don’t want them to detract from what I believe is an all-round very solid horror comedy.
The Final Score - 7/10