[Fantastic Fest 2018] Review: With A Twitter Prompt, YOU MIGHT BE THE KILLER Builds A Clever, Gory Good Time
The following review is coming from Fantastic Fest 2018
Comic book and fiction writer Chuck Wendig had a sixty plus comment Twitter thread last year that was a direct deconstruction of the classic Summer camp horror film, and it was clever as hell and hilarious. Well we exist in a world now where someone takes that exact thread and asks “what if this was a movie?” Then they made it.
Brett Simmons directed and co-wrote this new slasher meta film (alongside Thomas Vitale) which had it’s debut at Fantastic Fest and it’s safe to say that it snugly fits right in alongside fellow meta takes, embracing the camp counselor fun of The Final Girls while still looking at the genre head on like The Cabin in the Woods. When Sam (played by Cabin’s Fran Kranz) calls his best friend Chuck (the always lovable Alyson Hannigan) from the summer camp he runs, he quickly realizes that his already chaotic night may have just taken an even bigger turn for the worse. Camp counselors are being murdered at an alarming rate and after surviving into the night, Sam leans on the aide of his horror obsessed best friend Chuck, calling her while she’s working night shifts at Rings of Saturn, a pop culture obsessed comic book shop.
Simmons and Vitale do a number of things exactly right. One, they aren’t afraid to deep dive into the genre that they very obviously know they’re appealing to. Every movie can throw out an Evil Dead or Friday the 13th reference, but it’s not every day that Maniac Cop is named dropped casually in conversation. They also manage to turn something as bare as a five minute Twitter read and turn it into a full length movie, while fully incorporating a large number of the tweets verbatim into the film. Top these plusses onto a distinct Tarantino-esque approach to the film, Simmons, who was behind wildly entertaining genre entries Husk and Animal, is able to craft a summer horror movie that is a whole lot of fun, especially for horror fans. He keeps tackling specialized niche genres, with scarecrows and creature features neatly under his belt, and You Might Be The Killer is just further proof that Simmons can handle anything thrown his way.
Simmons and crew get the aesthetic exactly right, from the blue-green hue of the lake and forest to the seventies style grainy film that the flashbacks utilize. The camp counselors all even wear short shorts with bright blue and yellow tees, Steve is the “kayak king” and Jamie wants to spearhead the arts and crafts program. It fully embraces the world it’s living in and for the story they’re telling, they have to; luckily, they nail. Even the shots of Rings of Saturn, the workplace of best friend Chuck, is instantly a destination you’ll wish you could visit.
The plot is a little threadbare and this does lead to a small amount of dragging and some pacing issues but even though we know the blueprint of the film we’re following (and that’s okay, we’re supposed to), a few twists and turns still exist to keep us on our toes and even add some mythos to the already much covered sub-genre. What really makes it easy to enjoy is the back and forth banter between Kranz and Hannigan, which allows both to show off comedic chops in a pure exchange of dialogue, echoing the greats such as Kevin Smith and Joss Whedon.
Another glowing bullet point is never shying away from a very solid amount of violence and gore, even though the film heavily leans towards the “comedy” side of horror comedy. The killer that’s introduced is just creepy enough to remain scary but not so extravagant to push the film past the “this could be real” implications. The counselors all serve as perfect fodder in their roles, ranging from sports stud Brad (Patrick Walker) to bad girl Imani (Brittany S. Hall).
You Might Be The Killer made a lot with a little. It helps that it’s carried by two fantastic actors who have great chemistry together and are given a script that is a lot of fun to see brought to life. Simmons shows that he understands the genre and flexes his knowledge of horror to create something bloody and charming. It’s not completely original but it doesn’t need to be, or even want to be. It strays far enough away from The Final Girls to ever feel like a retread, taking a much more grounded approach to the same essential lens, and is even further proof to the idea that horror plots are much deeper and wider than they ever get credit for. You Might Be The Killer is a must watch, blood soaked love letter to the genre that proves the slasher is far from dead.