SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (2021) Reviews and overview

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‘You know the drill!’

Slumber Party Massacre is a 2021 American slasher horror film – and a remake of the 1982 classic – from Shout! Studios (Rabid 2019).

Directed by Danishka Esterhazy (The Banana Splits Movie; Vagrant Queen) from a screenplay written by Suzanne Keilly (Ash vs. Evil Dead series), the movie stars Hannah Gonera, Frances Sholto-Douglas, Mila Rayne, Alex McGregor and Reze-Tiana Wessels.

The original production, which was written by Rita Mae Brown and directed by Amy Holden Jones, is about a female high school student’s slumber party that turns into a bloodbath, as a newly escaped psychotic serial killer wielding a huge power drill prowls her neighbourhood.

Brent Haynes, Shout!’s Head of Original Content Development said:  “Remaking one of the seminal films of Roger Corman and Amy Holden Jones’ early work is exciting and audacious. But there are no better hands in which to place this challenge to Danishka Esterhazy, Suzanne Keilly, and the team at Blue Ice Pictures. Their creative vision will both honour the Corman ethos and captivate today’s audiences.”

The 1982 Slumber Party Massacre spawned two sequels: Slumber Party Massacre II (1987) and Slumber Party Massacre III (1990).

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Review:

The original film featured a creepy loser with a drill and the latest version features a creepy loser with a drill. The original film featured a group of friends being menaced at a slumber party and the latest version features not just one group of friends but three groups of friends, all being stalked. The original film was a sneakily subversive satire of the genre while this new version is a satire that’s neither sneaky nor particularly subversive.

The 2021 movie takes place at a lakehouse. Years ago, the drill killer attacked a slumber party and was apparently killed by the party’s sole survivor. Now, the location has become a hot spot for people who are obsessed with true crime podcasts. The daughter of the sole survivor of the last slumber party massacre goes to the house with a group of her friends, all of whom are looking forward to possibly being attacked by the drill killer so that they can kill him. Meanwhile, there’s a group of boys who are also at the lake because they love visiting murder houses. The boys are constantly screaming and having pillow fights. The girls are fully armed and they frequently comment on the absurdity of the film’s plot while pointing out all of the slasher movie clichés.

There are a few positives about this new version of Slumber Party Massacre, however, in the end, it’s hard not to feel that the movie just tries too hard. The script is a bit too heavy-handed to really be effective. Perhaps if we had never seen a horror film that specifically poked fun at the conventions of the genre, we would all be more impressed with Slumber Party Massacre‘s attempt at humour. But the thing is…

We’ve seen Cabin in the Woods. We’ve seen Scream. We’ve seen Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. And countless Asylum mockbusters. Like most horror fans, most of us are beyond the point where we can simply be impressed by characters in a movie pointing out the conventions of the genre.

The first Slumber Party Massacre was a satire that worked specifically because it played out its absurdity with mock seriousness. The new version, though, is constantly pointing out its own cleverness. At times, the entire production feels a bit needy. Instead of trusting the audience to figure out what it’s saying, this new version continually tells us. This new version doesn’t trust its audience.

That’s not to say that the film doesn’t have a few good moments. For instance, the character of Alix (Mila Ranye) is likeable and there is a nice bit where the group debates whether or not killers always come back to life. The murders are gruesome without being sadistic and, just as in the first movie, that drill leaves us with no doubt as to just what exactly the killer’s main issue is. Slumber Party Massacre II also gets a shout out, as one potential victim, when told to get a weapon, grabs a guitar. Towards the end of the movie, there’s an effectively tense scene involving a nail gun and, for a few minutes, the elements of danger actually feel real.

Unfortunately, despite such positives, for the most part, this re-imagining of the original Slumber Party Massacre is just too heavy-handed to work effectively.

Lisa Marie Bowman, guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens

Other reviews:

” …a great addition to the franchise. (It is actually better than many of the sequels and spin-offs the original spawned.) It deftly navigates gender politics while giving fans something to get squeamish about. The film sticks to the comedic roots of the source material and is an excellent slasher for today’s world.” AIPT

Slumber Party Massacre is a welcome addition to this new wave of modern slashers (Initiation, Fear Street, etc.). It’s gory, funny and filled with likable characters. While it’s inevitable that this review will be flooded with comments of the “stop inserting social commentary into my horror movies!” ilk, those who can stomach such a wild concept will find much to enjoy in a movie that’s this much goddamn fun.” Bloody Disgusting

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” …Slumber Party Massacre is a parody of the slasher, more or less. It takes pains to wink at the audience—turning the tables on the male gaze, undercutting standard horror cliches, and making a number of overt jokes regarding horror character archetypes. But this jokey tone feels wooden, and it isn’t helped by the joke-writing itself.” CineFiles

“Dialogue still slips in sass at regular intervals as a reminder to not regard the movie as strictly serious, which it certainly isn’t. You have to swallow this wickedly witty reimagining as a casual satire not just of the original Slumber Party Massacre specifically, but of routine slasher beats in general, and then entertainment comes easy. Simply swapping traditional gender roles in a couple of scenes leads to some great gags…” Culture Crypt

“Some folks may be looking for a more serious-minded slasher, but for those of you looking to let your hair down and have some old-school fun, then Slumber Party Massacre (2021) should be right up your horror-loving alley. Keilly’s script is sublimely subversive without being too heavy-handed with the story’s messaging, and Esterhazy has done a fantastic job of bringing this genre classic into our current times…” Daily Dead

“Seamlessly shifting from straight up slasher horror to comedic satire, Esterhazy dishes out blood-splattered scares and laughs in rapid succession. While the film opens with a strange, almost dry tone, it soon picks up pace and finds its gore-tastic identity. The narrative continually twists and turns, elevating and shifting into subversive territory.” The Daily Texan

” …picks the good intentions out of the remakes of the last decade. Keilly and Esterhazy blend them together with the energy of The Cabin in The Woods and the vibe of Tragedy Girls. It walks the very fine line between fan service (you will get your drill and the red guitar) and charmingly pointing out the absurdity of the choices that we have come to expect in a slasher.” Dread Central

” …there’s a very particular type of Slumber Party Massacre fan out there who’s going to come away feeling like screenwriter Suzanne Keilly and director Danishka Esterhazy made this film for that person’s birthday. It’s exactly the kind of knowing, hilarious, flirting-with-ridiculous reboot this franchise and its fans deserved. Gory as hell too. Don’t miss it.” Fangoria

“The spirit of Slumber Party Massacre is alive and well in this remake. Keilly and Esterhazy knew exactly what they wanted to do, and it feels like a true accomplishment. Presented with humour, tact, and a great deal of care, the film is a perfect way to honor the original while doing something completely different. Modern horror remakes, take note. This is how you do it right.” iHorror

“Brought to life by female director Danishka Esterhazy and female writer Suzanne Keilly, it comes as no surprise that the feminine-charged satire of the original has been spruced up for a new audience. Toxic masculinity gets a shout out, gender dynamics are key, and the reversal of the typical male gaze is inspired […] a fun, cheesy slasher.” Josh at the Movies

Slumber Party Massacre is a greasy pizza dripping in an abundance of cheese and served over a dead delivery guy. For better or worse, it’s gory and goofy to the point of the occasional eye roll. Add in a few iconic references that had me dying and a theme of women sticking together in the face of predatory men and it’s destined to drill through the hearts of Slumber Party Massacre fans.” Killer Horror Critic

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“It just all seems so tired in 2021 – if this was made in 1991 it could be forgiven. I will say this – while the first hour of the film is fairly ooky, the last half hour starts to redeem the whole affair with some bloody fun and actors that finally wake up and realize what type of movie they’re in.  If only the rest of it had that same energy to it.” The MN Movie Man

” …our heroines prove pretty capable of taking care of themselves. That’s not necessarily news by this point in horror’s history, though the filmmakers do manage to surprise and upend expectations a couple of times. The performances are all spirited, and Esterhazy keeps the pace brisk, successfully balancing a lighthearted tone with the suspense of who among the ensemble will survive.” Rue Morgue

Slumber Party Massacre is a remake that gets just about everything right, powered by a cast of final girls who have a few things to say about horror’s canonical treatment of women decades prior. The younger ensemble rewrites farcical rules and flips a finger to misguided tropes while operating on a reinvigorating level well above what some might prejudge as “made-for-television” quality.” What to Watch

Release date:

Slumber Party Massacre premiered on Syfy on October 16th and is released On-Demand on October 19, 2021.

Cast and characters:

Hannah Gonera … Dana Deveraux
Frances Sholto-Douglas … Maeve
Mila Rayne … Alix
Alex McGregor … Breanie
Reze-Tiana Wessels … Ashley
Rob van Vuuren … Russ Thorne
Jennifer Steyn … Kay Thorn
Schelaine Bennett … Trish Deveraux
Masali Baduza … Young Trish Deveraux
Potter Michael Lawrence Potter … John (as Michael Potter)
Eden Classens … Matt
Nathan Castle … Sean
Richard White … Guy One
Braeden Buys … Guy Two
Richard Wright-Firth … Dave
Arthur Falko … Chad
Reem Koussa … Kim
Jane de Wet … Jackie
Larissa Crafford-Lazarus … Diane

Filming locations:

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Technical details:

86 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Teaser trailer:

MOVIES and MANIA says:

The 2021 Slumber Party Massacre homage/revamp is a fairly playful and entertaining take on a slasher classic. The inversion of the male/female characters as ‘victims’ will raise a smile for most viewers even if some of it is a tad overdone (the “guy 1, guy 2” jokes quickly become tiresome).

There is certainly a decent amount of splattery action even if most of it is CGI and there’s a memorable death via an engine fan belt. And yet, overall, like Danishka Esterhazy’s (The Banana Splits Movie; it comes across as somewhat vapid and has a Syfy churn-it-out-quick and make-it-not-too-offensive feel to it. The slightly washed out colour correction used is also unfortunate. Still, it’s a step above most slashers.

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