Vicious Fun

Joel, a caustic 1980s film critic for a national horror magazine, finds himself unwittingly trapped in a self-help group for serial killers. With no other choice, Joel attempts to blend in or risk becoming the next victim.

A horror film critic accidentally finds himself at a support group for serial killers in Vicious Fun. Joel () is a young horror film critic in 1983 Minnesota, who writes for a magazine called “Vicious Fanatics,” while secretly harbouring a crush for his roommate Sarah (Alexa Rose Steele). In an elaborate attempt to win her over, Joel ends up following Bob (), the man Sarah just went on a date on, to a Chinese restaurant in the middle of nowhere, to secretly record some dirt on him. However, after some idle chatter, Bob walks away, leaving Joel to spend the night getting drunk and later passing out in a storage closet. When he comes to, Joel finds out that a late-night support group has started, lead by Zachary () and including Carrie (), Fritz (), Mike (), Hideo (Sean Baek). Joel quickly clues into the fact that the members of this support group are all serial killers and Joel has to be careful unless he wants to be their next victim.

Vicious Fun is a 1980s-set horror-comedy directed by Cody Calahan (The Oak Room), which centres upon a secret serial killer support group. Each member is a personification of a different serial killer trope, such as Mike being Jason-Esque machete-wielding masked killer or Hideo being a cannibalistic assassin. Joel is already in over his head when he literally stumbles into the meeting and pretends to be one of their absent members. However, things quickly become sour when Bob arrives at the meeting and recognizes Joel from earlier. With the help of skilled vigilante Carrie, Joel has to figure out a way to survive through the night or become just another statistic for this group of serial killers.

Vicious Fun is a film that is all about hearkening back to the horror films of the 1970s and 1980s, particularly through its neon lighting and synth score and allusions to everything from Friday the 13th to Assault on Precinct 13. The cast of the film is loading with Canadian genre icons, such as Ari Millen (Orphan BlackThe Oak Room), Robert Maillet (Becky), and Julian Richings (Anything for Jackson), plus a bit of stunt casting with the appearance by David Koechner (Anchorman).

While Vicious Fun gets the aesthetic right, I do have to admit that the plot of the film is a bit disjointed at times. The lead protagonist of Joel isn't particularly likable when we are first introduced to him, with him being a personification of all the negative stereotypes of film critics, including how he is apparently a bit of a slob who doesn't really like anything. I also have to note that a mid-film location change takes some getting used to and I almost would have preferred if all the action stayed in the Chinese restaurant.

That said, I do have to admit that that Vicious Fun lives up somewhat to its title and is a fun watch. This is in no small part to the very charismatic performance by Ari Millen, as the very ironically named primary antagonist Bob Nice, who is an absolute psychopath, yet absolutely compelling to watch. Of course, Vicious Fun also features a sizeable number of creative and gory kills.

Overall, despite some flaws, Vicious Fun is still a 1980s homage worth checking out.

Vicious Fun is now streaming on Shudder

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