Slumber Party Massacre

It’s been almost thirty years since the slumber party massacre of Holly Springs, four teenagers dead at the hands and power tools of “driller killer” Russ Thorn, his body never found after he fell into the lake. For most a mere footnote in history, another urban legend, interest in the resort has been raised by the Crime Bandits podcast’s revival of the story, but for sole survivor Trish Devereaux it has informed her life and how she has raised her own daughter.

Dana now setting off for a road trip with her friends Ashley, Breanie, Maeve and Alix, she knows the rules, to keep her phone charged, to check in regularly, to be aware of strangers and danger, but when the car breaks down their plans are forced to change and instead they find themselves at the renamed Jolly Springs, across the lake from a cabin housing five excitable guys looking to be friendly.

The Slumber Party Massacre of 1982 having been conceived as a satire by feminist writer Rita Mae Brown but shot as a straight horror slasher movie, the remake directed by Level 16‘s Danishka Esterhazy takes the original and pays homage in some ways – the red opening credits against a synth score – and twists others – lingering shower scenes are now of the dudes rather than for the dudes – but the wounds it inflicts are superficial.

The opening fifteen minutes getting swiftly to the point as it rushes through pizza, dancing, slaughter and pushback, it hits hard and fast but the consequence is that the subsequent road trip of partying, self-discovery and more pizza and dancing feels flat, none of the characters or their friendships fleshed out beyond glossy lip service, little more than bags of blood waiting to be burst even after the midpoint switcheroo.

The cast led by Hannah Gonera, Reze-Tiana Wessels, Alex McGregor, Frances Sholto-Douglas and Mila Rayne, they do their best but screenwriters Suzanne Keilly’s reworking of the story takes too few chances, only straying from the expected path by having the guys perform the requisite topless hotpants pillow-fight, never gripping enough to be a horror, not funny enough to be a comedy.

Where Slumber Party Massacre does strike home is with its old-school slasher love of the kill, the effects work first class throughout, and the pace and energy of the last fifteen minutes almost compensate for some of the painfully stupid actions already demonstrated, standing in the line of fire and never pressing an advantage in combat, the visitors on both sides of the lake equally vapid victims.

Slumber Party Massacre will be available on Digital Download from Monday 13th December

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