If you’re walking around at night with a big knife, covered in blood…you might be the killer!
A shocking riff on horror tropes, You Might Be The Killer tries its hand at the meta-humor and scares associated with Scream or The Cabin The Woods. Does it work?
Apparently a spoof, or at least a comedy, based on slasher films such as Friday the 13th, You Might Be The Killer focuses on camp counselor Sam, who must call his friend Chuck for moral support with a series of killings going on at his camp by a mysterious masked killer. The film supposes that YOU might be the killer, as a mask is placed in front of the camera and brought up as if the audience is wearing it. With both Fran Kranz and Allison Hannigan this looks like an incredible Meta film, and I’m excited to get started!
Presented below is the trailer for the film.
The film opens in media res as Sam (Fran Kranz) is on the run from a killer. He is the head counselor of Camp Clear Vista and has already lost at least six other counselors to the killer. His calls his friend Chuck (short for Charlotte; Allison Hannigan) for advice. She works at a comic store and has an encyclopedic knowledge of horror films. She finds it interesting that his cell phone still works, and begins to ask him to remember the events that led up to this point.
The film jumps back and forth in the timeline, but the audience gets a good look at what has happened so far. He opened camp that summer with 12 other counselors, telling them the spooky, and true (‘natch) story that a local woodcutter cut down a tree that was infested with a dark spirit. Something compelled him to carve that tree into a mask, and from then on strange murders have happened in the area. His old flame Imani (Brittany S. Hall) suggests all the counselors go looking for the tree that hides the mask.
Sam and Drew (Sara Catherine Bellamy) find the tree and for a joke she puts the mask on Sam. It possesses him and he kills Drew. He then stumbles on Ted and Alice (Jesse Gallegos & Clara Chong) at the pool killing both of them, and then kills Bob and Carol (Peter Jaymes Jr. & Olivia Brown) in the kitchen (ha ha, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice). He then kills Steve (Bryan Price), hanging him upside down from a tree, which is the point where the film started. All this time Chuck has been quizzing Sam and putting the clues together that he’s really the killer (as stated before, the events above all happen out of standard chronology).
Chuck realizes that he needs to stay away from the mask, as it’s making him the killer, but it’s attraction is too strong. Sam kills Freddie (Jack Murillo), Nancy (Savannah DesOrmeaux), and Imani, who falls into a pit filled with stakes dug by the counselors for protection. This leaves Heather (Carol Jean Wells), Brad (Patrick R. Walker) and Jamie (Jenna Harvey) who all go on the offensive to try and stop Sam. After dispatching both Heather and Brad, Imani reappears, having only had a small wound from the stakes. Chuck tells Sam there’s nothing to worry about as long as there are two girls, he should be safe.
Her theory is that the “Final Girl,” the remaining girl with the purest soul in all slasher horror films, is always the one to kill the killer. Unfortunately Jamie has other ideas about the situation and kills Imani, putting Sam back at risk. He and Chuck decide he should re-bury the mask to end this. Since Jamie is carrying a shovel, he asks her to help, but the pull of the mask is so strong, she puts it on and then kills Sam. She takes the mask and walks off into the woods alone at dawn.
Two years later: the phone at Chuck’s comic store rings. It’s Sam! And he’s alive again!
“So if you were just a witness to these murders, then how come you’re covered in blood?” – Chuck
You Might Be The Killer has a bunch of potential to be a really clever horror film that banks on the tropes of other movies. Unfortunately it falls flat midway through. The premise is a clever one in which a character with knowledge of horror films is able to guide a friend through the common plot elements, problems, and tropes of a standard slasher film. It’s clearly modeled on Friday the 13th, and makes a bold choice by starting the film in the final act of the youth being murdered. Unfortunately, Chuck makes the realization that Sam is the killer about 20 minutes into this 97 minute movie.
From there, the flashbacks serve as fleshing out the story and seeing which order the counselors get killed off in. And once the film catches up to the beginning the remainder plays out like a pretty standard slasher film, albeit one with a possessed spirit mask carved from a tree. Each character is killed off in excessively violent and sometimes (darkly) comical ways. There’s no escape for the counselors as there are reasons why the victims don’t have their cell phones, and the town is a whopping 25 miles away with the camp vehicle having been sabotaged.
There’s certainly entertainment in the unraveling of the mystery, and the references Chuck makes to similar situations in other horror films. Films such as A Nightmare On Elm Street, Maniac Cop, Halloween, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Jacob’s Ladder. The haunted mask is even reminiscent of an evil, more darker telling of The Mask (Jim Carrey’s comedy vehicle). But all these things can’t really take away that the titular question of who the killer is, being answered so soon. I was waiting for a final denouement revealing that Chuck was somehow behind this, as she had access at the store to some old dark magic books that she had squirreled away so they wouldn’t be sold. No such luck, however.
As far as the meta-fiction of this film goes, I actually think Popcorn provided better bang for the buck. You Might Be The Killer is entertaining from a slasher-film enthusiasts point of view, but it just doesn’t do enough for the genre as a whole other than resemble other, better films that have come before it.
- Including Sam, the camp has 13 counselors this season.
- Fran Kranz was in a much better meta-horror film, and survived to be one of the final two characters even, The Cabin in the Woods.
- Having talked about duality as an important theme earlier this month, the duality of Sam is something to recognize. He is a character that has a darker, unknown side – which he is unaware of. This film could also have been called “Summer of Sam,” as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the 1977 New York killings by David Berkowitz.
Having grown up on comics, television and film, “Jovial” Jay feels destined to host podcasts and write blogs related to the union of these nerdy pursuits. Among his other pursuits he administrates and edits stories at the two largest Star Wars fan sites on the ‘net (Rebelscum.com, TheForce.net), and co-hosts the Jedi Journals podcast over at the ForceCast network.