Slumber Party Massacre (2021)

Amy Holden Jones’ original 1982 “The Slumber Party Massacre” is considered one of the great trashy slasher classics of the 1980’s. It’s a movie that’s so irredeemably stupid but is still celebrated by many fans. I personally think the sequels are better, if infinitely stupider, but that’s neither here nor there. 2021’s “Slumber Party Massacre” is both a meta-satire and re-imagining that follows up on the original events of the premise of the original movie and turns it on its head.

Written by Suzanne Keilly and directed by Danishka Esterhazy, “Slumber Party Massacre” kicks off in the 1990s where a group of young women are having a slumber party. Most of them are viciously killed off, one-by-one by Russ Thorne, the Driller Killer (Rob van Vuuren). Thorne is defeated, seemingly killed, and tossed into a lake by the remaining survivor Trish. Roughly 30 years later, young Dana (Trish’s daughter), is planning on having her own slumber party away from home in that same, infamous location where Russ Thorn’s body was never found.

“Slumber Party Massacre” is going to be called a remake by a lot of people, but it instead takes the formula and uses the original movie more as a framing device. Much in the way “The Town that Dreaded Sundown” and “My Bloody Valentine 3D” practices, Suzanne Kelly gives us a brief truncated version of the original film, and then has a good time subverting standard slasher movie tropes. Rather than opt for a traditional tribute, director Esterhazy switches the sexual dynamics and has a great time lionizing the female characters, all the while objectifying the male supporting characters. Many of the men in the movie are impotent, buffoonish, and Esterhazy has a great time zeroing in on their bodies as a means of fetishizing them for the audience.

All the while the girls in the group make the wiser decisions with a twist written in by writer Keilly. It amounts to a lot of laugh out loud moments, including a party scene, and an argument about two of the guy friends being named “Guy.” There are even some welcome visual nods to the “Slumber Party Massacre” sequels. Frankly I was surprised by the big twist of the formula, as I thought this would be a reworking that just reworked some elements and called it a day. Instead, it ends up developing in to a horror movie very much about trauma and looking for ways to confront our past and move on once and for all. Director Esterhazy’s film revels in satirizing slasher movie clichés, while building some very likable characters.

If anything, the movie doesn’t spend nearly enough time developing the female protagonists as much I would have liked. And by the climax that movie pretty much falls apart before hitting the finish line. I know that writer Keilly had some commentary hidden in the climax, but whatever it was is lost in the abrupt change in tone, and rise in stakes. That said, “Slumber Party Massacre” is one of the smarter, funnier, and more vicious meta-remakes to come along in years and I hope audiences look for it.