‘The final exam is murder’
Massacre Academy is a 2021 American slasher horror film about a repeat killing spree that seems to be the work of Carnie the Killer Clown.
Written, directed and edited by Mark Cantu (Average Joe; Elite; Echo).
The Cineworx production stars Jess Uhler, Brian Ceponis, Sierra Mitchell and Christina Krakowski. Genre regular Shawn C. Phillips has a cameo role.
College athlete Kris McNeil (Jess Uhler) is one of the few survivors of a grisly series of murders committed two years previously at the hands of a masked slasher known as Carnie the Killer Clown. Deeply scarred by the events of that night, Kris attempts to move on with the help of her younger sister Maggie (Sierra Mitchell) and her therapist Doctor Shayne.
However, as the two-year anniversary approaches, a new murder spree begins, forcing Kris to face her demons head-on and stop a brand new killer hellbent on carrying on Carnie’s blood-soaked legacy…
Mark Cantu’s Massacre Academy is clearly a heartfelt tribute to the slashers of the past while at the same time it dispenses with some of the subgenre’s well-worn tropes, replacing these with a 21st-century vibe. Hence, the obvious ‘final girl’ Kris (played with verve by Jess Uhler) has no love interest to hamper the proceedings earlier on. In fact, there are strong female characters at the core of Massacre Academy.
The film gleefully mocks moronic fraternity culture and many viewers will doubtless delight in the killer’s decimation of frat partygoers by the killer with a huge mallet! Elsewhere, some of the end credits humour might be a tad too crass for some tastes but even Sean C. Phillips’ typically buffoonish character manages to raise a smile. On balance, a visit to Massacre Academy should leave most horror fans satisfied.
Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA
“The cast is excellent, as is the production design, which overcomes the budget most impressively. While the story is pretty standard (no real surprises are held about the who and why), its focus on the community integrating the original massacre into its identity is fascinating. Overall, Cantu helmed a satisfying, creepy, fun, bloody title.” Film Threat
“Sawing, clubbing, hanging, and frying are just a few of the creatively original ways this killer clown takes care of business […] Massacre Academy is the rare occasion where a film exceeds all expectations. A film that brings nostalgic pride back to the horror genre, obviously shot by a passionate and well-versed team.” Horror Nation
“One of the big positives about this film for me is that it is filled with strong women characters, while it is mostly the men who are bumbling fools (e.g., the Kyle character) […] That was cool. And none of this running around and tripping over their own feet to let the killer catch up.” Indie Horror Films
“You have caricatures, comic relief, and strong survivors. But while there’s someone for everyone to relate to, the use of tropes or comedy never hurts the tension. It’s self-aware without slapping you in the face with its cleverness. Jess Uhler is at the epicenter of this well-acted affair, and her portrayal of McNeil makes her a final girl with grit that you can’t help but cheer for.” Pop Horror
“There’s a likeable heroine you want to see survive and plenty of @ssholes you want to see meet a nasty end. And there are plenty of outrageously gory deaths including a spine being torn out, a mallet to the face and death by deep frier, all done without CGI […] One place where it differs from many of the films that inspired it is that Massacre Academy does feature a fair amount of humour.” Voices from the Balcony
Cast and characters:
Jess Uhler … Kris McNeil
Brian Ceponis … Carnie
Sierra Mitchell … Maggie McNeil
Christina Krakowski … Becca
Shawn C. Phillips … Kyle
James C. Leary … Henry Lee Palmer
Stephanie Swift … Doctor Brady
Daniel John Kearney … Corey
Brandon Krum … Julius Corey Slater
Valena Zitello … Lori
Rick Dutrow … Lt. John Hallenbeck
Jason Bradford … Victim at Party
Xander Goldman … Dalton Steele
Brian Rickerson … Tanner Hart
April Golebiewski … Debbie Levine
Gene Scatina … Rick the car salesman
Ron Sibert … Jennings
Ryan Bergman … Taggart
Ray Cygrymus … Riot Ronnie
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1
MOVIES and MANIA rating: