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You Might Be The Killer – Two Buffyverse Alums in an Underseen Slasher Comedy That Deserves More Love

Posted By themoviesleuth 229 days ago on Entertainment -  Courtesy: Screen Media FilmsSomehow I totally missed it when You Might Be The Killer debuted as a Shudder original in December 2018. It's not difficult to see how an indie title like this could slip through the cracks: there certainly is no shortage of semi-satirical throwbacks to classic 1980s slashers, and it would be doubly easy to overlook a streaming original that wasn't exactly a high-profile release (not to mention that Shudder has grown quite a bit in terms of reach and popularity in the two and a half years since this film came out). But even so, as the long-time Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan that I am, I'm not sure how I managed to be totally unaware of the release of a horror-comedy starring two Buffyverse alums: Willow herself, Alyson Hannigan, and Cabin in the Woods and Dollhouse fan-favorite Fran Kranz (alright, he's more Buffyverse-adjacent, but definitely a member of that same circle of actors, and I will always maintain my theory that Cabin is set in the Buffyuniverse, and Wolfram and Hart is the unnamed organization running the bunker – but that's an argument for another article). Anyway, I had no idea that this film even existed until I stumbled across it a few weeks ago. This is a movie that deserves more love: a really fun, well-made hybrid of genuine slasher thrills and affectionate parody of slasher film conventions, elevated by two great leads. It has all the ingredients of a cult favorite, but has somehow flown weirdly under the radar. It has its flaws, and there is no denying that it gives itself a serious uphill battle by choosing to occupy a pretty well-worn genre niche, but You Might Be The Killer is definitely one that genre fans should make a point of checking out.Courtesy: Screen Media FilmsSam (Fran Kranz) is the head camp counselor at a summer camp with a serious problem: a masked, machete-wielding psycho chopping their way through the other counselors. For some expert backup, Sam calls his best friend Chuck (Alyson Hannigan), a comic-shop-owing horror nerd with an encyclopedic knowledge of slasher movies that he hopes can keep him alive. But her expertise leads to a disturbing theory: that somehow, without knowing it or controlling it, Sam is actually the killer. With that upsetting probability in mind, Sam and Chuck have to solve the mystery of how and why he got this killer alter-ego, so that he can save his remaining camp counselors... from himself. It's a fun and unique twist on the slasher premise, with our hero also doubling as the reluctant villain, and a seriously unreliable narrator.The story is told largely in a flashback structure, as we see the events of the summer-camp murders through the fragmented, not-exactly-trustworthy memories of Sam, while he and Chuck try to put the events together and determine the cause of Sam's predicament. It's quite an effective storytelling device, and it uses the unreliable-narrator (or unreliable memory) concept pretty well. Equally effective is how they portray Sam's inner struggle against the impulses pushing him to become the killer, by making the mask almost a character in itself, in terms of the role it plays in the unfolding of the story. These elements are where the film shines the most, putting a legitimately unique spin on this well-loved and well-worn genre. Especially in the case of the inner-struggle, mask-as-character conceit, the concept is so interesting that it could hold its own in a much more serious genre film, and not just a satire of one, although the quality of the concept also makes for a much better, more interesting satire.Courtesy: Screen Media FilmsOf course, while there are some quite unique things about You Might Be The Killer, there is also plenty that we have seen before; I have no doubt that the first part of the plot description above caused a bit of deja vu in horror fans reading this. That probably is the biggest reason why this film slipped through the cracks upon its release; it is far from the only postmodern 80s-slasher satire to come out in the last decade or so, and that niche may have felt oversaturated by the time this one was trying to find distribution. In particular, its style of self-aware, 80s-referencing slasher comedy feels very much like 2015's The Final Girls. I wouldn't say that it is derivative of that film, but it's definitely on a very similar wavelength; it's entirely possible that director/co-writer Brett Simmons didn't borrow from The Final Girls at all (and I will give him the benefit of the doubt), but arrived in a similar place due to the same set of 80s-slasher influences and a similar post-Scream, post-Buffy sense of humor. But The Final Girlswas great, so another slasher satire with a similar vibe is not necessarily a bad thing, especially since this film is very nearly as fun and has a very different plot; the two can stand together pretty well as sibling films.This does, however, obviously borrow more than a bit from Screamwith the character of Chuck, who serves the exact same narrative purpose as that film's Randy: the horror nerd with the encyclopedic knowledge of slasher movies who knows almost everything that's going to happen, and is always fast with the film references. Alyson Hannigan brings a completely different personality and energy to the part, stopping the character from being too similar (and I would absolutely say that having Alyson Hannigan instead of Jamie Kennedy is a step up, especially these days), but the film is clearly wearing its Scream influences on its sleeve with her character all the same. For that matter, the film also really wears its Buffyinfluences on its sleeve by casting two fan-favorite alums of Joss Whedon's various media. But ultimately all of that is alright because, while there may be elements of You Might Be The Killer that cause a bit of deja vu, the execution is strong where it counts.Courtesy: Screen Media FilmsAlyson Hannigan and Fran Kranz are both great in this film. The characters feel like they were written specifically with those two in mind, and they play to each actor's strengths beautifully, when it comes to line delivery and comic timing. Kranz does the frazzled, manic, hapless guy in a nightmarish situation routine perfectly, nailing the physical comedy as well as the frequently-absurd dialogue. Alyson Hannigan may be in the thankless position of spending the entire movie on the other end of a phone line in a completely separate location, but her talent with dialogue-heavy comedy and eccentric line deliveries really shines through (it is a very Willow-esque role, for which she is well-prepared), and she brings a lot of personality and some very funny moments to a character who she at one point sums up with “exposition is my middle name.” Hannigan was always my favorite member of the core Buffy cast, and she is just as fun here. The rest of the cast may be less memorable (with the exception of Steve The Kayak King, mainly because the other characters insist on constantly referring to him as Steve The Kayak King), but this is entirely Kranz and Hannigan's show, and they easily steal it, elevating even its less original moments.For a slasher comedy, You Might Be The Killerhandles the slasher aspects pretty well too. The film actually has at least a couple pretty gnarly kills that feel right out of an actual Friday the 13thmovie. Those who were disappointed in The Final Girls' PG-13 rating and resulting lack of 80s-slasher-appropriate gore will be glad to know that this film absolutely goes for the R. And as mentioned earlier, what the film does with the killer's mask, and how the crucial prop takes on a life of its own as a sort of character, is very effective and cool. Overall the film strikes a nice balance between its comedy and horror, managing some quite effective slasher movie moments while retaining its sense of humor.Courtesy: Screen Media FilmsThe ways in which it is a bit too familiar for its own good, in ways that might not be necessarily derivative but definitely feel like they've been done before, hold it back from quite being a truly great horror-comedy, but it undoubtedly is quite a good one. Its less original elements can be forgiven because of how unique its central concept feels, how effectively it handles Sam's inner struggle, and especially how well its two leads sell it all. Hannigan and Kranz take what could have been just a decent horror-comedy otherwise and elevate it to one that really feels like a blast. It may not be perfect, but it's a lot of fun, and one that slasher fans should have a great time with. It certainly deserves much better than the weird level of obscurity that it is currently stuck in. Hopefully there is still time for it to find its audience, and gain the cult following that it absolutely deserves.Score:- Christopher S. JordanIt wouldn't kill you to share this review! (function() { var zergnet = document.createElement('script'); zergnet.type = 'text/javascript'; zergnet.async = true; zergnet.src = (document.location.protocol == "https:" ? "https:" : "http:") + '//'; var znscr = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; znscr.parentNode.insertBefore(zergnet, znscr); })();

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