The TSL’s Grindhouse: Slumber Party Massacre (dir by Danishka Esterhazy)

This weekend, SyFy premiered Slumber Party Massacre, which was billed as being a re-imagining of the original film of the same name. The original film featured a creepy loser with a drill and the latest version features a creepy loser with a drill. The original film featured a group of friends being menaced at a slumber party and the latest version features not just one group of friends but three groups of friends, all being stalked. The original film was a sneakily subversive satire of the genre while this new version is a satire that’s neither sneaky nor particularly subversive.

This new version takes place at a lakehouse. Years ago, the drill killer attacked a slumber party and was apparently killed by the party’s sole survivor. Now, the location has become a hot spot for people who are obsessed with true crime podcasts. The daughter of the sole survivor of the last slumber party massacre goes to the house with a group of her friends, all of whom are looking forward to possibly being attacked by the drill killer so that they can kill him. Meanwhile, there’s a group of boys who are also at the lake because they love visiting murder houses. The boys are constantly screaming and having pillow fights. The girls are fully armed and they frequently comment on the absurdity of the film’s plot while pointing out all of the slasher movie clichés.

There are a few things that I liked about this new version of Slumber Party Massacre but, in the end, it’s hard not to feel that the movie just tries too hard. The film’s approach is a bit too heavy handed to really be effective. Perhaps if I had never seen a horror film that specifically poked fun at the conventions of the genre, I would have been more impressed with Slumber Party Massacre‘s attempt at humor. But the thing is …. I’ve seen Cabin In The Wood. I’ve seen Scream. I’ve seen Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. I’ve seen countless Asylum mockbusters. Like most horror fans, I am beyond the point where I can simply be impressed by characters in a movie pointing out the conventions of the genre. The first Slumber Party Massacre was a satire that worked specifically because it played out its absurdity with a mock seriousness. The new version, though, is constantly pointing out its own cleverness. At times, the entire production feels a bit needy. Instead of trusting the audience to figure out what it’s saying, this new version continually tells us. This new version doesn’t trust its audience.

That’s not to say that the film itself doesn’t have a few good moments. For instance, I liked the character of Alix (Mila Ranye) and there is a nice bit where the group debates whether or not killers always come back to life. The murders are gruesome without being sadistic and, just as in the first movie, that drill leaves us with no doubt as to just what exactly the killer’s main issue is. (Slumber Party II also gets a shout out, as one potential victim, when told to get a weapon, grabs guitar.) Towards the end of the movie, there’s an effectively tense scene involving a nail gun and, for a few minutes, the film’s danger actually feels real.

The film has its moments but, for the most part, this re-imagining of the original Slumber Party Massacre was just to heavy handed to work for me.

2 responses to “The TSL’s Grindhouse: Slumber Party Massacre (dir by Danishka Esterhazy)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 10/18/21 — 10/24/21 | Through the Shattered Lens

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