Friday, January 10, 2020

Why You Need to Check Out YOU MIGHT BE THE KILLER

I hate to ask you this, but are you sure you’re not the killer,” Chuck asks casually into the phone, waiting for an answer from her panicking, blood-drenched friend miles away at summer camp.

Seeing this scene and hearing these words in the trailer, I instantly put this movie on my watch-it list. And I was not disappointed, especially witnessing the rare spin on classic ’80s horror. I’m talking Sleepaway Camp, Friday the 13th, Slumber Party Massacre, and all the other classic slashers. All the right tropes, wrapped into one, and told from a different angle. Directed and co-written by Brett Simons, You Might Be the Killer is one of the few ’80s throwback films you should check out.

The movie opens to Sam, drenched in blood and running away from a killer pursuing him and the other camp counselors, friends of his. We discover his turmoil when Chuck (Alyson Hannigan) finally picks up her phone and tries to calm him. She forces him to retrace his steps, allowing us (and him) to understand not only how everyone was invited to prepare for this summer’s batch of soon-to-arrive kids, but also to realize that Sam…might just be the killer.

What brings this film to life are the actors. Fran Kranz, who plays Sam, excels at gathering our empathy for him. He has blackouts and is genuinely afraid of a killer he hasn’t actually seen. I remember first seeing Kranz in The Cabin in the Woods as witty Marty, my favorite character. But above this role, my mind retains Kranz from the short The Lord of Catan. In that film, his name is Penis. At that first mention, I knew that I would always attach him with that role. Nonetheless, in each of his films, he performs skillfully, keeping you engaged. I was not surprised to believe his frustration in You Might Be the Killer, despite its comedic tone.

Then, there is the always awesome Alyson Hannigan as Chuck. Hannigan has starred in almost everything I loved from the 90s to the 2000s. She’s given us Willow Rosenberg from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Trina Echolls from Veronica Mars, and Lily Allen from How I Met Your Mother. Now, in You Might be the Killer, she runs a comic book store and is Sam’s voice of reasoning for the killings at the camp. She stays on the phone with Sam through this whole ordeal and, as only she knows how, manages to bring lightheartedness to his tragedy. Instead of phoning the police to the camp to save any survivors from the killer, she tries to help Sam through his dilemma, all while casually shelving product and checking out customers.

Aside from the acting, I must acknowledge cinematographer Andrew Strawhorn. He is responsible for one of my faves, Haunted High, and much of the Lethal Weapon television series, whose set I had a chance to visit. My appreciation for his eye in You Might Be the Killer is that he adds a comedic flair, while also genuinely paying homage to the 80s slashers. Many recent creators, who have attempted to recreate that 80s feel, rarely understand that the cinematography at that time carried much of the weight of the film. Consequently, I have witnessed substandard camerawork being passed off as “paying homage” to past cinematographers. Strawhorn not only paid homage with his classic cowboy shots, quick camera movements through action, or stationary shots during the kills, but he also sought to carve his name in stone with this film.

So, If you are anything like me—you know—fun, then give this movie a shot. It stands as a unique and entertaining horror within the last decade. Point blank. Period.

Watch the trailer:

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