Nearly 40 years ago, director Amy Holden Jones and writer Rita Mae Brown gave us one of the greatest and most progressive slashers of the 1980s with The Slumber Party Massacre, proving that these hack-and-slash movies could be so much more than just watching half-naked girls trying to survive against a dangerous (and usually male) assailant. Now here we are, almost four decades later, and director Danishka Esterhazy and writer Suzanne Keilly have taken on the property to create a remake reflective of these current times, and holy hell, does Slumber Party Massacre (2021) rule so freaking hard. It’s hilarious, thought-provoking, extremely clever, has some great death scenes, and does what every great remake should do: celebrates what made us fall in love with the original, but sets out to do its own thing all the same.
The set-up in SPM (2021) feels like your standard slasher fare: a group of girls head out to a remote cabin for a weekend of (slumber) partying, and end up crossing paths with a maniacal killer named Russ Thorne (Rob van Vuuren) and the deadly power drill that he uses to make mincemeat of his victims. But if you think that’s all that’s going on in this new Slumber Party Massacre, think again—as once you’ve settled in for the ride, Esterhazy and Keilly mix up this tried-and-true formula, subverting all sorts of expectations along the way to create one of the most entertaining horror comedies of the year.
I don’t want to reveal too much more than what I’ve said already, just because half of the fun of Slumber Party Massacre (2021) is getting to experience all the ingenious homages to the original movie as they are revealed, but what I will say is that beyond all these loving nods, Esterhazy and Keilly also use this opportunity to give some of the horror genre’s most reliable tropes a bit of an update, too, also to hilarious effect, and I loved just how well the script, as well as Esterhazy’s confident directorial approach, seamlessly blends together both the horror and comedy elements to this story, making Slumber Party Massacre (2021) as funny as it is intense. Most genre fans are probably aware that Jones’ OG TSPM was initially intended to be a straight-up comedy instead of more of an exercise in terror, so kudos to the creative forces involved here for honoring that initial vision in their remake.
The female characters at the center of the story in Slumber Party Massacre (2021) include Dana (Hannah Gonera), Breanie (Alex McGregor), Ashley (Reze-Tiana Wessels), Maeve (Frances Sholto-Douglas), and Maeve’s little sister, Alix (Mila Rayne), and all of the actresses do a great job of creating compelling and endearing characters you want to root for once the proverbial poop hits the fan, and van Vuuren’s over-the-top performance as Russ Thorne is one for the ages.
Some folks may be looking for a more serious-minded slasher, but for those of you looking to let your hair down and have some old-school fun, then Slumber Party Massacre (2021) should be right up your horror-loving alley. Keilly’s script is sublimely subversive without being too heavy-handed with the story’s messaging, and Esterhazy has done a fantastic job of bringing this genre classic into our current times, which will hopefully help introduce a new generation of fans to the timeless joys of pillow fights, drunken dance parties, and the power of young women fighting back against male-driven mediocrity and their fragile egos. Oh, and it’s also worth noting that Slumber Party Massacre (2021) has the greatest shower scene in horror this year (quite possibly, ever) that left me cackling and with tears in my eyes. The remake debuts on the SYFY Channel this weekend on October 16th, and I cannot recommend it enough if you’re someone who digs on horror that has a comedic bent to it.
Movie Score: 4/5
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Author: Heather Wixson