Slumber Party Massacre (2021)

Slumber Party Massacre

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Trish and her friends have rented two cabins at Holly Springs, with the girls residing on one side of the lake and the boys hanging out at the other. While there, the girls are attacked by a giant drill wielding maniac named Russ Thorn. Thorn catches the girls unawares and slaughters everyone but Trish, who not only manages to survive, but also manages to disarm her attacker, knock him unconscious and throw him in the lake.

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And she got some seriously good air on that toss too. Nice form.

Twenty-eight years later, Trish’s daughter Dana sets off for her own girls’ weekend with three of her friends (and one sneaky little sister stowaway) at a remote cabin, far away from the site of her mother’s attack. But, wouldn’t you know it, their car breaks down right outside the now run-down remains of Holly Springs, and the girls are forced to spend the night at the same location where Trish had her fateful encounter decades before…. Only this time at the other end of the lake, because the original cabin is currently occupied by a bunch of dudes. Not to be deterred, the girls decide to have their planned slumber party at the lake instead, and as is typical with all stories like this, history is doomed to repeat itself, as Russ Thorn ends up not being as dead as everyone hoped, and a fun girls night gets turned into a fight for survival.

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I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t have any high hopes when I stumbled upon this reboot. My first concern was that I hadn’t even realized anyone was in the process of making a reboot to begin with. But then my concern grew even further when I realized the ridiculously spelled logo from the SciFi channel was plastered all over everything (even though the film was produced by Shout! Factory), a company known for their prolific amount of crap-tastic output. And indeed, the first twenty-minutes or so did little to assuage my apprehension. The entire thing starts with what you would expect from your standard exploitation-like horror flick. There’s a flashback where there are a lot of scantily clad girls who do a lot of dancing in their PJ’s, there’s a creepy ex-boyfriend who’s spying on them, almost everyone gets dispatched by the guy with the giant drill, and then there’s a time-skip where history get’s set-up to repeat itself. There are a couple of funny bits thrown in, but overall it’s all annoyingly predictable.

BUT THEN the movie decides to throw in a massive twist and turn your expectations on their head, proving the film is more of an homage to the original than you were initially led to believe. So, bravo guys. You got me. Enjoy your well deserved slow-clap.

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In case you didn’t know, the original Slumber Party Massacre from 1982 was written by feminist Rita Mae Brown and was initially meant to be a satire of the slasher genre. However, producer Roger Corman wasn’t too keen on that, and the film was turned into more of a typical slasher flick. But despite the lack of Brown’s approval, the film still managed to maintain several holdovers from her original script, including several bits of the feminism, humor and satire. The reboot pays it’s respects to that blueprint, by following that same formula fairly closely, except this time the script didn’t end up being as heavily edited, so the feminism and satire are far more pronounced this time around and have been updated for the 21st Century. For instance, there’s the expected nudity and shower scene, a standard prerequisite for all slasher films, but instead of one of the girls, you get one of the studly dudes getting all naked and soaped up instead. Or when the girls go to warn the boys about the killer, and the three who are still alive suddenly go all macho and run out the cabin to confront the killer, and the girls are so stunned by their stupidity that even they can’t help but comment that the boy’s privilege is so bad that they even want to turn something like being murdered into some sort of competition. And though there are a couple parts where it feels like the filmmakers may be trying just a little too hard to make a point and should have maybe added a bit more subtly (For instance, two of the characters are literally named Guy and Guy 2. I’ll leave it to you to figure out for yourself if they die and in what order), it’s all very tongue-in-cheek and adds a healthy dose of self-aware humor to the film, and is a nice nod to the original.

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Poor dears just realized they sought assistance from the wrong people.

Speaking of the original, the film is chock-full of nods and references, not only to the first film, but the sequels as well. Names are references to the original characters, the refrigerator scene is kept (though they changed it into a freezer), the feathery pillow fight from Slumber Party Massacre 2 is recreated with the boys, as is the ridiculous looking guitar that the dream killer loved to carry around. And I’m sure there are more and there are probably nods to the third film as well, but since I haven’t had a chance to rewatch that one yet, I can’t confirm them. Point is, the film includes some nice callbacks, so if you’re a fan of the original movies, you’ll probably appreciate all the Easter eggs.

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But while the film does manage to be entertaining enough, the story sort of falls apart at the end. Once the movie transitions into self-aware territory it becomes an enjoyable enough little romp filled with dark humor and inside jokes. But then with about twenty-minutes left in the film, the movie inexplicably decides it wants to shift back more towards straight slasher territory again. Which wouldn’t be so bad, except that these clearly self-aware characters, who were being so smart and clever just minutes ago, suddenly start making stupid slasher movie decisions again, as if they’d all suddenly suffered from some kind of sudden onset brain damage. It’s a very odd transition, and while the film doesn’t handle it too badly, the sudden change in tone does feel very jarring and a bit out of place.

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That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the new Slumber Party Massacre. It’s not a perfect film by any stretch, but you can tell by the film’s structure and content that it was made with an appreciation and respect for the original in mind. Blood and gore hounds should enjoy the handful of brutal and bloody deaths and fans of the originals should appreciate all the references to the previous films. But while I found it enjoyable enough, the movie does suffer from some pacing and tonal irregularities, and I suspect that some of the humor may rub people the wrong way. And while I like the setting, the movie ends up feeling more like a camping horror film, rather than really having anything to do with slumber parties. But that may just be me being picky. All in all, I found it amusing, so if you like gory self-aware horror filled with modern sensibilities, this may be worth a quick watch.

Both Slumber Party Massacre films are available on a variety of streaming services, with the reboot occasionally showing on the SyFy channel.

The original and the reboot are also available on DVD and Bluray.

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Michi

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