What Is It All About?
A bunch of stupid teens with a secret. Some handsome jocks, Some sexy Cheerleaders. An old Farmhouse. A masked Killer……..its like the 80’s Slash boom…..never happened.
The Hughes Verdict:
When I reviewed Bloody Homecoming a few months back, I received a few emails from die-hard Slash fans who were all asking the simple question “If I say I love Slasher….why the terrible rating”. Those readers of HCF did have a point. By now long time regulars of this site, know that out of all horror, the slasher genre is my favourite and I still get some stick within the office of HorrorCultFilms over my infamous Scre4m four star rating, but there is just something about a killer in a mask, slaughtering stupid teens who really “should be running out of the door, instead of up the stairs”. Its probably my love for HALLOWEEN and Michael Myers, that I am determined to find a film of that nature again, a slash that I can say….”YES!!! Now this is better than Carpenter!”……. an impossible Mission that maybe even Tom Cruise would turn down.
The reason I bring up Bloody Homecoming is because of Jake Helgren, the guy who wrote and produced that film and now sitting in the Director’s chair for Varsity Blood. Its that reason alone is why I approached this film so different. After my savage treatment of Homecoming, I felt I owed slash fans to look at this new offering with different eyes. Not as a reviewer for HCF, but that of a slash fan, a horror fan who simply loves these movies……that idea alone should at least make this film a much pleasurable experience!
Helgren does come across like a guy who for many of us, was simply brought up with the whole world of Slash around him. Before found footage, J Horror, torture porn….all we knew in horror was Slash and it was a wonderful time. Helgren is obviously trying his best to bring that formula back, to give the horror world a worthy reminder of golden times. The trouble for the guy is that there was a reason why the genre died a slow death and fans began to turn away….the blue print was getting tiresome and sequel after sequel was milking the fans for all their worth. For the high class killers, its still a money back guarantee for the studios. Any new sequel starring the likes of Michael, Freddy and Jason will always make money simply because these are the guys the fans want to see. They could be making HALLOWEEN: Chapter 56:Death At An Old People’s Home, and fans would still pay, because the nostalgia and love towards those guys will ironically like the characters in the films….will never die!…..
Helgren struggles because he is basically trying to bring back the love but by introducing a new guy into the equation. That will only work if you have in front of you a never seen before script or story…something good old Ghostface managed to get in his Scream introduction. Bloody Homecoming and Varsity Blood are not awful films, they are tired films, a replica of why the slash genre died. Yes, I did try to watch this as a Slash lover, but that only caused me to sigh a lot more and throw my hands in despair. Its great to homage past glories, but when you offering nothing new alongside it, then you can’t really expect fans to jump on board and fall in love and scream for a sequel.
Just look at the plot and you can see what I mean.
Hannah ( Lexi Giovagnoli) is the new girl in school who suffers from a tragic back story (as always), well in fact in seems all the teens on show has a secret…..which doesn’t really build up to nothing. The film is set on HALLOWEEN (yippee) but anyone hoping for a sort of Slaughter High remake will be left disappointed. Despite the title and the very good cover that promises a high school slaughter, what we have is bunch of Jocks and Cheerleaders all leaving their school and heading off to an old run-down farmhouse, where a killer awaits. And that is it!
First of all, why couldn’t the film be set around the school….why the old sort of “cabin in the wood” setting? Its that kind of plot vices that really grate and will cause even the most level headed fan to shake their head in disbelief.
If that plot detail is sketchy, then I apologise, but really, Varsity Blood offers nothing but an A-Z of how slash films are made. Mobile Phones don’t work…..the masked killer “dressed this time in the school mascot outfit) walks so slow that the all the teens need to do is run!!!!!!!!!!!!!, the virgin, the slut, the killer’s reveal and motive….which is mind blowing stupid…… the only cliché that is missing from the film is a cat jumping from a an opening door, but then I did fall asleep a few times so if it did happen, I once again do apologise.
Following the much superior All Cheerleaders Die, doesn’t help the films cause. While that film sparkled with wit and style, Varsity comes across as boring and bland. Slash film live and die by their murders and once again there is nothing on show here that will make you blood juices flow. Its like Jason X which I watched straight after, the film doesn’t hold up that well these days, but what makes it still a joyful watch is the witty lines and some brilliant killing set-pieces, that Jason deserved. Varsity Blood gives its killer nothing but dull deaths and more dull deaths. Yes, there are bloody scenes, but when, all we have in front of us is unlikeable characters who we don’t really care if they live or die, then what is the point?
It is quite clear that Helgren loves the genre but if he really wants too embrace the golden era, he really needs to offer something else. Give someone money, a camera and tell them to make a slasher and the majority would come up with something like Varsity Blood. Films like Malevolence and Behind The Mask showed exactly what you can do with the well used blueprint and if Helgren wants to be up there with the likes of Stevan Mena and Scott Glosserman, then he really needs to take his love and turn it into something fresh and exciting.
After two attempts, maybe for Helgren, 3rd time will be a charm……….