VICIOUS FUN (2020) [Grimmfest May Madness Review]

Directed by:
Written by: ,
Starring: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Directed by Cody Calahan
Screened at Grimmfest May Madness Virtual Film Festival 2021
Screening on Shudder from 29th June 2021

Joel, a writer for horror magazine Vicious Fanatics, unwittingly finds himself in attendance at a self-help group for serial killers. Trapped in the building, he has no choice but to attempt to pass himself off as a fellow serial killer or become one of their latest victims.

VICIOUS FUN, the latest film from the director of The Oak Room and Antisocial, couldn’t have a better title if it tried. It’s a vicious, gory slice of killer comedy action set in the 1980’s with an ass-kickin’ synth soundtrack to boot. Horror fans, you’re about to be entertained!

From the offset, the viewer feels as though they’re a part of the movie thanks to the inclusion of main character Joel; a laidback but passionate horror fan who adores his job as a film critic for national horror movie magazine Vicious Fun (think Fangoria). With a love for horror cinema, he knows what would create the perfect killer in a movie. However, being a horror nerd doesn’t mean you always win the girl. The object of his affection, flatmate Sarah, is more interested in a guy called Bob who he suspects is already married. After Bob drops Sarah off after a date, Joel decides to follow him in order to prove he’s a slimeball. Unfortunately, his plan to expose Bob doesn’t exactly go to plan and later that night he drunkenly finds himself in a room full of serial killers. Will all the years consuming horror movies save him from being their next victim?

VICIOUS FUN pokes fun at some of horror’s well-worn tropes but isn’t afraid to put its own spin on them. There’s the killer who butchers hitchhikers from motels; the 6ft+ masked killer who murders teenagers at campsites; the loner who likes to murder people but resuscitate them so he can kill them again and again; the government hitman who kills the entire population of villages on behalf of his country; the lone female assassin; the Japanese cannibal killer; and finally, the shapeshifting, smooth-talker who woos his victims before executing them. Each killer poses their own risk and despite all being in the same room for similar reasons, you can tell that its an uneasy stalemate and one false movement or word by any of them, and each killer will be taking matters into their own hands. The fact that Joel finds himself at the centre of this creates endless opportunities for it all to go south but with Joel being a good guy and one of “us”, we will him on to do what it takes to escape. The problem is, with so many egos in the room eager to prove themselves, survival isn’t going to be easy.

The young film critic has to summon all his brains and brawn in order to stay alive, especially against love rival Bob, tremendously played by The Oak Room‘s Ari Millen. Bob is one of the craziest characters I’ve seen put to screen. His slicked-back blonde hair and intense stare might be defining features but he’s a chameleon who can disguise himself as anyone he pleases: a real estate agent, a frightened bypasser… even a police investigator. Ruthless and determined, Bob isn’t just standing between Joel and Sarah, but also between Joel and his own survival.

Nails to the head, limbs flying off, blood squirting everywhere… VICIOUS FUN is just that. It’s tongue-in-cheek but does so in such a gory, violent fashion that you can’t help but sit up and be mesmerised by the action-packed, gore splattered sequences on screen. The moments between, the quiet before the storm, are just as gut-churning as you sit anxiously awaiting and anticipating the next move. It’s like a game of cat and mouse, only the hunter and the hunted keep switching roles, so you never know who’s got the upper hand and who’s going to make it out alive. Some of the scenes play more for laughs which can put the viewer at ease, but no sooner do you get comfortable these characters remind the viewer just how fearless and ferocious they can be.

A rip-roaring, blood-thirsty thrill ride, VICIOUS FUN is an absolute blast from its jaw-dropping start right down to its comical, kick-ass finish. Hopefully the brutality on screen will make you grin rather than gag as the film is about celebrating all that is vicious and fun about horror movies and our favourite, fictional serial killer characters. The film’s upbeat ending easily opens the idea of a potential sequel and I for one would welcome further episodes in what could result in a rollicking roadtrip.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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About Bat 4389 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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