Film: Totally Killer (2023)
Director: Nahnatchka Khan
Written By: David Matalon, Sasha Perl-Raver,
Starring: Kiernan Shipka
Genre: Horror Comedy/Slasher
Why You Should Watch It:
Did you ever wish that someone mashed together your favorite slasher film (Scream) with your favorite time travel film (Back to the Future) but made it written and directed by women with a more diverse cast?
Totally Killer is a slasher horror comedy that delivers everything you want from the genre, plus social commentary and actual laughs. If you were disappointed with 2022’s book-to-film version of “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” but really, really wanted that slapstick 8o’s vibe, then Totally Killer will finally scratch that itch for you.
This film stars Kiernan Shipka, who you may recognize as the star of Netlfix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” as Jamie, the teenage daughter of a woman (Julie Bowen) who lost her friends as a teen to the notorious Sweet Sixteen killer. Thirty years later and the mask wearing killer is still on the large and back for his final revenge. When Jamie’s mom becomes a victim of the killer, she finds herself on the other end of his knife and hurtled back through time to 1987 when the first round of killings began.
Nahnatcha Khan directs this film brimming with tons of self-aware hilarity. If you enjoyed her other film “Always Be My Maybe” you’ll love this one as well. The twists and turns were fun, but my favorite part about this movie was the blatant finger pointing at the 1980s and how poorly things from the Brat Pack era have aged. From sexist t-shirts, cigarette moms, unacceptable bully behavior, casual teen drinking and tons of racism, Totally Killer points out that we view our beloved gilded 1980s era through rose-colored glasses. There are many things that didn’t pass the era-accuracy test (the school receptionists romance book was too modern!) but the vibes and social commentary were spot-on.
If the wild 1980s doesn’t do it for you with this film, then being set during Halloween hopefully will. I’m always looking for horror comedy films to add to my spooky season watchlists in between the usual actually scary films. The writers did not shy away from pointing out in the script that the masked killer is a facsimile of Michael Myers; ageless and unstoppable. The mask is very reminiscent of the baby face killer from Happy Death Day, both of which fit perfectly for me in the very niche horror slasher genre.
Also, if you know me then you know that I love a complicated, unlikeable female character and this film has them by the candy bucket full. The main character, Jaime, comes off as a bratty daughter at the beginning, but her journey through the film has her appreciate her mom more in the end. She also acts as a 21st century guide to a group of mean girls, of which her own mother is the leader, showing just how far we as a society have come in terms of internalized misogyny. Jamie works hard through the film to point out everything that was so fucked up about an era that media often holds in high regard.
This is a film I’m sure that I’ll visit again during the spooky season, and it’s perfect for teens and parents of teens alike. If you loved campy horror films like “M3GAN” and “Happy Death Day”, then don’t miss “Totally Killer”! It’s free to watch on Amazon Prime.