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CUFF 2021: Vicious Fun Review

Imagine Jason Voorhees, Hannibal Lecter, and Patrick Bateman walked into a bar. This thought experiment isn’t a setup for a joke; it’s the premise behind director Cody Calahan’s new horror-comedy, Vicious Fun.

The vile men in this movie aren’t the actual characters from Friday the 13th or The Silence of the Lambs, but they’re obvious stand-ins. There’s a 6”9 Jason-esque masked killer who prefers murdering college coeds while they have sex. Ari Millen’s raging d-bag Bob exudes the glib charm of Christian Bale’s iconic American Psycho character. And Hideo (Sean Baek), who carries himself with a cold, brooding menace, loves eating his victims à la Hannibal the Cannibal.

So what brings these goons together? They’ve joined a support group for serial killers, lead by the fast-talking Zachary (David Koechner).

Things take a turn when the film’s hapless hero Joel (Evan Marsh) gets wasted at a sketchy bar. In his drunken stupour, Joel stumbles into the support group. Realizing he’s in danger, Joel goes with the flow and pretends he’s a serial killer too. But as the saying goes, “game recognize game,” and it’s not long before this depraved group suspects Joel may not be who he claims he is.

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Vicious Fun is a loving homage to the schlocky horror flicks that lined video store shelves throughout the ‘80s. Steph Copeland’s pulsing electronic score sounds ripped from a John Carpenter or Tangerine Dream soundtrack. Jeff Maher’s stylish cinematography captures most of the action within gorgeous neon-lit frames. It all comes together to create a delightfully vintage vibe.

This self-aware horror-comedy wears its heart on its sleeve. The film works as both a commentary on low-brow cinema and a love letter to the genre. Vicious Fun is silly, fast-paced, and most importantly, fun. It’s also hellbent on grossing you out with over-the-top gore.

It breaks my heart that we can’t experience this movie in a theatre with a super-charged midnight madness audience. Vicious Fun feels custom-made for a frenzied late-night crowd.

Vicious Fun’s Canadian premiere takes place at the 18th annual Calgary Underground Film Festival. CUFF 2021 runs from April 23rd – May 02nd, 2021. For more CUFF coverage, click here.

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