Following the success of their brilliant slow-burn thriller The Oak Room, genre specialists Black Fawn Films are back with horror-comedy Vicious Fun. World premiering at Sitges Film Festival back in October, the film is an affectionate love letter to eighties serial killer films, packed full of nostalgia and 80s electro synth.
Directed by Cody Calahan (The Oak Room), Vicious Fun centres on Joel (Evan Marsh), a hapless film critic for horror magazine Vicious Fanatics. After discovering his roommate (who he’s completely besotted with) has a new boyfriend, he impulsively decides to follow him to a local bar. Joel ends up passing out after drowning his sorrows, awaking to find himself unwittingly trapped in a self-help group for serial killers. Can he use his knowledge of horror movies to help blend in with the deadly group, hopefully keeping alive for long enough to escape?
Considering how much I enjoyed the atmospheric The Oak Room at Fantasia Film Festival, I had high hopes for Vicious Fun and thankfully the horror-comedy didn’t disappoint. Tonally, the film is a huge departure from it’s predecessor, with Calahan switching the slow build, unfolding mystery for a gory fuelled 80’s nostalgia trip. Featuring great pacing and brilliant performances, the film is a hugely entertaining outing with a really fun central narrative. The sharp script from writer James Villeneuve is packed full of tongue-in-cheek humour, paired with a self-aware, Scream-esque meta commentary on the horror genre. Set across one fateful night, Vicious Fun combines comedy, thriller and action elements for a fresh take on the genre.
The film is bolstered by a fantastic ensemble cast who wonderfully riff on the killer stereotypes featured in slasher horrors. The self-help group comprises of the creepy clown Fritz (Julian Richings), Patrick-Bateman-esque chameleon Bob (Ari Millen), along with Jason Voorhees type Mike (Robert Maillet) complete with mask and wielding a machete. The Oak Room star Ari Millen is the real standout as sociopath killer Bob, with a brilliantly hilarious and unhinged performance full of charisma. As proven in Orphan Black, Millen really can turn his hand to multiple personas with bags of flair. Amber Goldfarb is equally as captivating as Carrie, the badass Punisher type vigilante with a mysterious but intriguing past. Evan Marsh brings a real endearing nature to Joel, and even though he’s a bit of a loser, you really do find yourself rooting for him.
The pairing of director Callahan and cinematographer Jeff Maher resulted in the fantastic The Oak Room, and here they once again bring their excellent direction and visual flair. Drenched in neon hues, Vicious Fun is extremely stylish, combined with Steph Copeland’s retro synthwave beats for a nostalgic trip to the eighties. Typical of the decade, the score ebbs and flows with the action, ramping up to John Carpenter levels in the more tense scenes. The film is also packed full of enjoyable action, with some impressive gory practical effects from Shaun Hunter, who does not hold back on the blood splatter and guts on offer!
Riotously funny and hugely entertaining, Vicious Fun is a neon-soaked, nostalgic blast. With an impressive ending subverting usual genre expectations, I can see this becoming the next cult classic from Black Fawn Films. I genuinely can’t wait to see their next project.
Vicious Fun streams from 29 June on Shudder