Slumber Party Massacre

2 out of 5

Directed by: Amy Holden Jones

There are some inspired moments towards the start and end of Slumber Party Massacre, when director Amy Holden Jones sticks to the intended slasher-parody of the script from Rita Mae Brown, but even at a slim 76 minutes, all of the typical stalker stuff and cat jump scares in between tend to be a drag.

The plot hardly tries: Michael Myers and Halloween may’ve typified the story-less “dude hunts girls” premise, but as we’re wholly aware by now, Carpenter’s original purposefully used its slim setup to amplify its undercurrent of horror and tension. The resultant scene would take the wrong lessons from that and establish the whole slasher bylaws of requisite nudity and gory kills, but we still have some creative (or funly campy) classics that’ve emerged from that; Slumber Party Massacre just kind of treads the midline – we’re told that an insane killer dude has escaped recently; some high school girls are planning a sleepover party; cue the rest of the movie.

Insane killer dude’s shtick is to use a power drill, which is mostly shown to use via silhouettes and then splashed blood, with some budget saved for one (I think) on screen drilling gag; in other words – the kills are nothing to write home about. He otherwise has nothing going for him – there’s certainly no secret regarding his presence, and no subtext to any of this beyond “see girls, kill girls.” I give a half point for a creepy chuckle when he disguises himself as a corpse at one point.

The opening of the movie jumps right in to Halloween suburbs, and I can’t be the only one who thought casting an actress with a name similar to Michael Myers (Michelle Michaels) was maybe purposeful, and I got a chuckle at how director Jones starts tossing 80s nudity at us as soon as she can – girl wakes up, takes off her clothes, poses for a while – but this starts to turn into more obnoxious indulgence as the film proceeds, with lingering shower shots and boys-watching-girls-undress shots, because the 80s made it okay to perve on high school girls. Oh, oh, right, it’s okay, they’re 18. The way Jones will purposefully adjust the POV to look at asses suggests some wink-wink nature to this, but nonetheless, any real cleverness is gone after those opening scenes.

Towards the conclusion, once the killer is in full cat-and-mouse mode, the movie just leans into its dumbness and gets kinda fun again, but we’ve still had a pretty dry 50 minutes of screentime to get there.