There’s a scene in Fight Club in which Edward Norton’s character says, “Everything’s a copy of a copy of a copy.” Although he’s describing insomnia, that quote is applicable to slasher movies as well. The subgenre is inherently derivative, known for its staples with little deviation from a formula established more than 30 years ago. The law of diminishing returns quickly came into effect when slashers were produced ad nauseum in the ’80s, resulting in lower quality output. Not much has changed since.
It’s nearly impossible to make a truly original slasher these days, but that doesn’t mean they all have to be a carbon copy of those that came before them. Ideally, a slasher should pay respect to the classics while putting its own spin on the formula. The makers of Bloody Homecoming, however, did not receive that memo. The low budget effort offers nothing viewers haven’t seen dozens of times before. Like many of those ’80s movies, it applies the tried-and-true premise to a life event; in this case, homecoming.
Bloody Homecoming is conventional on every level. It’s a story horror fans have put up with hundreds of times, from the likes of Prom Night and I Know What You Did Last Summer, and it fails to bring anything new to the table. For every one right move the movie makes – a fleeting moment of tension or emotion, for example – two other mindless cliches occur.
When the Winston High School seniors won’t let the freshmen into the homecoming dance, a group of friends instead partake in some underage drinking. What begins as innocent fun ends in tragedy, as one of the boys, Billy (Jesse Ferraro), dies in a fire. Three years later, the school decides to celebrate homecoming once again. The surviving friends, now seniors, each receive an ominous note in their lockers that reads “Happy Homecoming.” It’s not long before they’re killed off one by one.
The killer wears a firefighter uniform (because the kid died in a fire, get it?). The weapon of choice is among the most ridiculous in slasher history: a “spirit baton” sharpened to a point for optimal stabbing. The killer’s identity is kept a secret until the end. Several red herrings are established, including the janitor who inexplicably owns a fireman getup, the angry father of the dead kid and the creepy principal. The reveal and long-winded explanation are unexpected, I’ll say that much, but only because they’re so nonsensical.
The film was made on an estimated budget of $3 million (according to IMDb). Where on earth did that money go? The acting is almost universally bad. I understand that many of the kids are new to the business, but even the adults can barely deliver a line. It doesn’t help that the dialogue is unnatural and the characters are paper-thin. Even the death scenes, with minimal gore, are nothing to write home about. The lone highlight comes from Tom Jemmott’s score, which is reminiscent of John Carpenter’s iconic composition for Halloween. Although it plays over the opening and closing credits, its seems to absent from the actual film, sadly.
The DVD offers no special features, which is unfortunate. Not only does it feel cheap to get a bare bones DVD without so much as a trailer, but I’d also be interested to hear about the motivation behind the film from director Brian C. Weed, who makes his feature debut, and writer Jake Helgren. Was this a cash grab or are these two actually passionate about the genre? Without any bonus content, we may never know.
Bloody Homecoming is unapologetically, almost insultingly, derivative. It’s void of all suspense, but it does provide some cheesy entertainment. Slasher fans will find some fun in watching the stock teens get picked off by a firefighter with a baton, but anyone else is better off staying home from this dance.