It was supposed to be another lovely summer at Camp Clear Vista, bonding, refreshing, teaching the youngsters useful life skills as well as the more abstract concepts of cooperation, friendship and resilience, but that was before the bloodied bodies of the camp counsellors started piling up around the lakeside.
Running through the woods in the dark, panicked, bloodied and carrying a baseball bat, surviving counsellor Sam calls his best friend Chuck; a horror movie fan who works at the Rings of Saturn comic and memorabilia store, he knows she will be able to calm him down and give him perspective and insight into the situation.
The thing is, despite Chuck’s earnest determination to be a supportive friend to Sam, to talk him through what is happening, as he recounts the events of the evenings and she asks for clarification on certain points which remain fuzzy, one question keeps cropping up: “Have you considered that you might be the killer?”
Directed by Brett Simmons from a script he co-wrote with Covis Berzoyne and Thomas P Vitale from a story by Chuck Wendig and Sam Sykes, You Might Be the Killer is an affectionate twist on the horror slasher setup, most specifically Friday the 13th, which never quite becomes subversive or sharp enough to land the necessary killer blow.
Despite being shot and lit with oversaturated colours in close homage to the eighties templates it follows, with grain and dirt added in the flashback “tally” interludes, the premise requires that the film is set in the present day with modern mobile communications as Sam’s interrupted call to Chuck moves from place to place.
The principal selling point of You Might Be the Killer is the two leads on either end of the telephone, Dollhouse’s Fran Kranz and Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Alyson Hannigan, both hugely enjoyable as Sam and Chuck but neither challenged to offer anything beyond their customary presence, and while it the film is a cut above Scary Move it cannot hope to hold a flickering candle to The Cabin in the Woods.
Fortunately, Simmons does not hang about nor hold back as it jumps from induction day to campfire tales to killing sprees, not necessarily in that order, weaving a tale of the evil spirit of the woods trapped in a tree which is too comfortable sticking to the rules of the genre rather than breaking them.
Closest in spirit and execution to The Final Girls, crucially too little effort is made to develop the supporting cast, the cinematic callbacks their names given more thought than their characters, Freddie and Nancy, Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice; their fates ostensibly sealed before they are introduced as the film coasts along on a single joke, the audience has little reason to care for them.