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You Might Be the Killer (2018) IMDB description: “A camp counselor suffering from blackouts finds himself surrounded by murder victims. He turns to his horror movie enthusiast friend for advice, and to contend with the idea he may be the killer”.
Scare Me (2020) IMDB description: “During a power outage, two strangers tell scary stories. The more Fred and Fanny commit to their tales, the more the stories come to life in their Catskills cabin. The horrors of reality manifest when Fred confronts his ultimate fear”.
Why I took them off the list: I decided to do a Double Feature review of 2 horror/comedies in the run-up to Halloween!
I’d had the first film on my list for a while. A comedic slasher starring genre legends Alyson Hannigan (Willow in Buffy) and Fran Kranz (Marty in the great horror comedy Cabin in the Woods)? Sign me up!
And looking for a good companion piece, I came across Scare Me (2020), which sounded like it had a similar tone. I decided to give it a go as reviews were overall decent, and it stars the talented Aya Cash (Stormfront in The Boys). So, let’s dig in!
Review of You Might Be the Killer (2018)
Retro-styled summer camp-set horror has been having a bit of a resurgence in recent years in both film and TV, from American Horror Story:1984 to the second part of Netlifx’s Fear Street trilogy, to the excellent meta-comedy The Final Girls (2016).
You Might Be the Killer most closely resembles the latter example in tone. But unlike that film, it lacks wit and insight into the type of movies that it’s parodying.
Still, it’s clear that director Brett Simmons has a lot of love for the genre, and the film is at its best when it’s gently ribbing the absurdities of slasher flicks. It does this mostly through Hannigan’s Chuck, a horror-loving geek working at a video store who receives a call from her blood-covered friend Sam (Kranz).
He’s been working as a counselor at this family’s summer camp, has just woken up to find a slew of bodies scattered around the place, and is concerned that, yup, he might be the killer. What follows is his attempt to recall just what happened, aided by Chuck’s expertise in such (at least fictional) situations.
The central question is resolved surprisingly quickly, but there are several kinks in the story that keep things moving. Not least, a seemingly haunted mask with a spooky and unique design, which comes across as a demented version of Groot from the Guardians of the Galaxy films.
Enjoyable Thanks to Kranz and Hannigan
Aside from the amusing blood-red title cards that appear to tell us the body count so far or the methods of defense the characters are employing, the film’s biggest asset is its 2 stars.
Kranz is always appealing and gets another chance to effectively deploy his wide-eyed mania and show off his considerable comedic chops here.
Hannigan is perfectly cast as Chuck, though it’s a bit of a shame that she’s solely relegated to dispensing advice over the phone. Still, she does this well and gets most of the film’s best lines. The film is a bit of a drag when she isn’t onscreen advising Sam about horror movie rules.
The inevitable kills get a bit wearisome, especially since we know they’re all coming from the start, and don’t really stand out apart from a couple of particularly splattery ones. Aside from the two leads, the other characters feel underdeveloped and get saddled with some terrible dialogue, so we don’t really care about them.
The film does end with a fun reveal that pays off a throwaway line from earlier on. But it also promises something that probably would have been more interesting to explore than the lackluster climax we actually got.
Final score: 5/10
You Might Be the Killer (2018): Worth Watching?
It depends. You Might Be the Killer is no Cabin in the Woods or The Final Girls and is lacking in both laughs and scares.
Still, if you’re a meta-comedy/horror completist, it’s amusing enough thanks to Kranz and Hannigan’s performances and some fun references to past classics of the genre.
You Might Be the Killer (2018)
Directed by Brett Simmons
Review of Scare Me (2020)
Be warned: there happens to be 2020 horror movies called Scare Me that revolve around people telling campfire tales. If the poster features a purple skeleton wearing glasses, and the IMDB rating is significantly lower, you’re not watching the same film as I did!
This Scare Me opens with a frustrated and disillusioned screenwriter/actor on his way to a remote cabin. He has to deal with an overbearing taxi driver who won’t stop telling him about a screenplay idea she’s sure will impress James Cameron – a story involving the Biblical Moses fighting a robot army.
When he arrives at his destination, we see how blocked he really is – the only words he’s able to put to paper are ‘Warewolves with guns…get revenge?’. Nothing else seems to be forthcoming.
Things take a turn when a blizzard causes a power outage, and he receives a visit from the girl in the cabin next door – who happens to be a famous horror novelist. One thing leads to another…and they end up challenging each other to take turns telling scary stories while they wait out the storm.
That’s about all there is to the film, but writer/director/lead actor Josh Ruben makes the most of the simple premise. Like in his later film Werewolves Within (2021), he manages to sustain a creepy atmosphere within a claustrophobic location, helped by excellent lighting and sound effects.
And there are plenty of laughs throughout, particularly in the climactic tale – described by one character as “Like a Star is Born…but with Satan”.
Ruben and Cash Make for a Funny, Appealing Pair
The premise of 2 strangers stuck in a cabin telling each other spooky stories promises a great showcase for the performers taking on the lead roles, and the actors definitely deliver here.
In addition to being responsible for the consistently funny and smart script, Ruben proves himself an energetic presence and talented comedian in front of the camera as well.
As she already demonstrated on The Boys, Cash is exceptional at playing a character who’s acerbic and over-confident to the point of bullying. But she’s equally delightful to watch in action here and plays off Ruben well.
Chris Redd is also great as a late arrival in the cabin. He fits right in with the manic, campy energy that’s already been established.
The film unfortunately takes a bit of a jarring turn when it suddenly veers into full-on horror territory in the final 20 minutes, losing some of the goodwill it has built up so far. The actors still manage to sell this development, but it’s a bit of a disappointment after such a charming and fun couple of first acts.
Final score: 7/10
Scare Me (2020): Worth Watching?
Yes, Scare Me stumbles a bit in its final stretch, but for the most part, it’s a highly entertaining comedy that remains spooky, creative, and engaging throughout. Cash is a hoot, and Ruben shows how talented he is across all of his disciplines.
Scare Me (2020)
Written and directed by Josh Ruben