Vicious Fun is the latest venture from the fine folks at Black Fawn Films, and it’s a banger of a horror comedy. It celebrates the horror genre — and everyone who loves it — with tongue-in-cheek humor and lots of gooey gore. It grabs you right from the first scene (by the throat, violently) and blasts off on a viciously fun ride that’s a true treat for genre hounds. A humor-laced rampage of knives and knuckles, Vicious Fun is an absolute blast.
Set in Minnesota, 1983, Vicious Fun follows Joel (Evan Marsh, Shazam!), a caustic horror movie critic who’s not-so-secretly pining for his roommate. After a night of heavy — heavy — drinking, Joel finds himself in the midst of a self-help group for serial killers. He must blend in, or be found out and face the sure-to-be violent consequences. Of course, Joel’s improvisation skills aren’t quite as honed as he’d like, and shit goes south real fast.
This marks the feature film debut for writer James Villeneuve, and honestly he comes out swinging. The script is cheeky, self-aware, and consistently funny (greatly served by Marsh’s performance), and I will definitely be keeping an eye on his future projects. Paired with Cody Callahan’s vibrant direction and Jeff Maher’s stellar cinematography (the framing is excellent and I live for all the neon), Vicious Fun is undeniably a well-made film. We last saw Callahan and Maher’s work on the dramatic thriller, The Oak Room, and their drastic tone shift proves that these guys have some serious versatility.
The music by Steph Copeland is fierce fun as she uses 1980s synth rock as her own personal playground. Any lover of synth horror is going to adore this score. Once the blood starts flowing, it opens up a whole can of awesome. The effects — by Shaun Hunter — are fantastic. As gory as the film gets, it never really loses that “fun” keyword in the film’s title. I’m likely going to circle back to that word a lot in this review, because really, that’s what this movie is. Just pure, vicious fun.
It’s no surprise that all the technical elements of the film are on point — the Black Fawn team sure knows how to pick ‘em, and they (very wisely) keep them around. The end result is a fully cohesive project that doesn’t feel like a sum of its parts, it’s a completed whole.
The cast are all excellent in their roles; even the
cannon fodder bumbling cops have perfect line delivery. Truly, this cast is great. Marsh plays flabbergasted and overwhelmed in a completely endearing (and very expressive) way that makes you really root for him to hopefully make it through this long, dark night.
Amber Goldfarb (Far Cry 5, Helix) as Carrie is cool, calm, collected, and impressively deadly; it’s clear that Goldfarb had a lot of fun in the role (behind all that steely attitude and eye-rolling). But Ari Millen (The Oak Room) as Bob steals the show. Between his if-Patrick-Bateman-did-Flashdance dance number (really… and yes, it actually works) and his emphatic line delivery, Millen proves once again that he can really command a scene.
I may be biased here, because as a horror journalist (though I personally use that term loosely), Vicious Fun spoke to me on a molecular level. The dialogue — one monologue in particular, from Tony the cop — discusses the genre in very frank terms that add a bit of a meta flair to what is already a very already on-the-nose film. One of the killer characters wears a mask, wields a machete, and often has the misfortune of leaving one sole survivor. Another likes to dress as a clown. Bob dons a clear raincoat and has a collection of business cards. Anyone that’s familiar with the horror genre in any way will appreciate the homages.
Another personal point of appreciation is the ending. Which I will not say anything about, because I’m not a monster, but I will say that Vicious Fun does not fall into formulaic traps of what “should” happen in the epilogue of an unrequited love story. For that, I am grateful.
Tonally, it’s got a great energy and doesn’t let the pace drop for a second. There’s a lot to say about Vicious Fun, but really, if you’ve read this far, then you know you should just go see it yourself. You’ll have a lot of fun. And it will be vicious. Vicious fun. There you go.
Vicious Fun is now playing as part of Sitges Film Festival.