June 14, 2024

Totally Killer 2023 Movie Review

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Totally Killer 2023 Movie Review

Fantastic Fest 2023 Greetings again from the darkness. All Hallows’ Eve approaches, so we know to expect the latest from Blumhouse Productions. What we didn’t expect was a rare blend of comedy, horror, science fiction, and time-travel wrapped in 1980’s nostalgia. Director Nahnatchka Khan (“Fresh Off the Boat” creator) and a trio of co-writers, David Matalon, Sasha Perl-Raver, Jen D’Angelo (HOCUS POCUS 2, 2022), deliver a film that pays tribute to many that have come before, most notably BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985) and HALLOWEEN (1978). Or maybe it’s HOT TUB TIME MACHINE (2010) and SCREAM (1996). Either way, it’s a good ride as we poke fun at the culture of 1987.

Jamie (Kiernan Shipka, “Mad Men”) is a teenager fed up with her overprotective mom (Julie Bowen, “Modern Family”). However, this mom has history on her side when it comes to being protective. It’s Halloween night, and thirty-five years ago, three girls in North Vernon, all friends of hers, were stabbed sixteen times. These days, the most popular Halloween costume in Vernon is that of the ‘Sweet Sixteen Killer” … all black attire and a creepy blonde mask (one that seems like we should recognize, but I didn’t).

Of course, it’s this year that the killer returns to claim another victim. While being pursued by the masked killer, Jamie heads to the rundown amusement park where the school science fair is set up. In my day, most science projects were done with a poster board and colored pens. Times have changed, and Jamie’s smart friend Lauren (Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson) has transformed a photo booth into a time travel machine. Although it hasn’t previously worked, the killer’s knife plunging into the control panel sends Jamie back to 1987, where she meets her high school aged mother (Olivia Holt) and tries to prevent the original tragedy from ever occurring.

It’s at this point that the nostalgia kicks in. Most would agree the 1980’s was not a pretty time, and it’s even more cringe-inducing now. Pam is in a ‘Mean Girls’ type group called The Mollys (because they worship 80’s icon Molly Ringwald), and there are cracks about the music, the clothes, and cocaine. But the best part is seeing how Jamie is aghast at the insensitivity and lack of political correctness in the era. Security is so lax, she easily passes as a Canadian exchange student, and spends an inordinate amount time telling people they shouldn’t say or do something that was commonplace in the 80’s and outlawed these days.

The expected wise cracks counterbalance the violent murders, and for the most part, the film works just fine as an entertaining and fun trip down memory lane. As a bonus, it gives Kiernan Shipka a lead role that she can build upon.

Totally Killer 2023 Movie Review