Horror remakes are rarely very good, so when I sat down to watch Danishka Esterhazy’s modern reimagining of the 1982 original, my expectations were fairly low.
Thankfully, this incident took me by surprise. While not a classic of the genre by any means, 2021’s Slumber Party Massacre is a mostly enjoyable watch, and a cut above a lot of recent horrors.
The movie opens in 1993 with that traditional horror scene, the cabin in the woods. Trish Devereaux rented a cabin so she could have a sleepover with her friends Jackie, Kim and Diane.
Her fun and games are interrupted by her sleazy ex-boyfriend Chad, but he’s not the only partygoer threatening the night. The biggest obstacle to her celebrations comes from deranged serial killer Russ Thorne, who attacks Trish and her friends after brutally dumping her ex-girlfriend.
A few bloodthirsty murders later, the film jumps to present-day Los Angeles, where Trish (the sole survivor of the earlier massacre) says her first goodbyes to her daughter Dana, who heads out for a girl’s weekend with her best friends.
Maeve, Breanie and Ashley. Unbeknownst to this concerned mother, Dana and her friends head to the same Holly Springs location of the original massacre.
You may already have an idea of what happens next, but here’s the thing. This is a film that manages to subvert our expectations of the genre with some very interesting twists. You know, Dana and her friends aren’t the hapless victims you get in these types of movies.
When Thorne reappears, these ladies are ready and waiting for him, as it turns out that their entire trip was organized for one purpose: to take down the killer who physically and mentally injured Trish and killed her friends.
Are they successful? It’s no surprise to say that Torne destroyed at least one of them. While the film twiddles its finger at tired old tropes of yesteryear, it’s still a heartfelt film. These ladies are still in trouble because Thorne has the ability to resurrect himself like Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees. So, you can still expect some gory deaths as the film progresses.
The girls are not alone in the woods, as a group of boys also stay in a nearby cabin. In fact, their cabin is the same cabin that Dana’s mother stayed at, and it turns out that it wasn’t a coincidence at all.
The guys — two of whom are literally named Guy and Guy 2 (probably a reference to the names of the one-time victims that often appear in the end credits of horror movies) — are here because they’re fans of the true-crime podcast. Russ detailed the story of Thorne and the previous slumber party massacre.
When boys meet girls, mistrust develops between them as neither is sure of the other’s intentions. At one point, after several murders have occurred, one of the boys thinks the girls have a “feminist plan to get rid of all the men.”
We know that’s not the case, but it’s fun to watch the panicked reactions of the girls when they think they might be out to get them. This is just one way the film subverts expectations – once it’s the men, not the ladies, who are the cowards – and another is the thrilling shower scene when one of the men is naked, not on camera. one of the women.
It’s clearly a “girl power” movie, though the female characters aren’t immune to silliness. One of them, though warned, still stands too close to the windows, and they still take their eyes off the body of the presumably dead Thorne, who predictably disappears from their sight. So this is not a movie that portrays men as weak and women as flawless. The film is more realistic than that – as realistic as a film about a seemingly unstoppable killer can be – so men shouldn’t feel embarrassed watching this female-empowered twist on familiar horror themes.
All in all, it’s a decent enough watch, elevated by a strong cast of women who bring depth to their empowered characters. The script is witty and clever, and the kills are pretty gruesome.
Unfortunately, not all is positive. The film falters towards the end as it rushes towards its conclusion, and the introduction of another enemy threatens to spoil the previous ones. The film can be a little predictable at times, despite its attempts at originality elsewhere.
However, the good outweighs the bad, so while this isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, it still manages to be better than it could have been. If you’re not tired of the slasher movie genre and want something that tries to be a little different from the norm, this can be recommended.