We just can’t get over the 80s. And with killer music, killer movies, and killer… killers – why would we? Totally Killer, directed by Nahnatchka Khan, catapults us right back into that beloved decade. It’s a time-traveling adventure that takes us on a wild ride from the present day back to the neon-soaked, cassette-playing era of the 1980s. With a blend of suspense, comedy, and a generous dose of nostalgia, the film offers a fresh and funny take on the slasher genre, adding a fun whodunit twist that’ll keep you guessing ’till 2023.
“[Totally Killer] offers a fresh and funny take on the slasher genre, adding a fun whodunit twist that’ll keep you guessing ’till 2023.”
Totally Killer sets the stage with the return of the notorious “Sweet Sixteen Killer”, who, after a chilling 35-year hiatus, is back on Halloween night to claim another victim. Seventeen-year-old Jamie (Kiernan Shipka) is living under the watchful eye of her overprotective mom (Julie Bowen). But as teens often do, Jamie chooses to ignore her mother’s repeated warnings to keep her wits about her and to stay out of dangerous situations. When she winds up in a showdown with the masked maniac in a rundown amusement park, she steps into a photo booth and.. back in time. (Yeah, it’s a time machine. Don’t worry, it’s not important.) Jamie suddenly finds herself time-traveling to 1987, the year of the original killings.
In the blink of an eye, modern final girl Jamie is thrust into the vibrant world of the 1980s, complete with neon leg warmers and cassette tapes. But this isn’t just a nostalgic trip down memory lane. Jamie has a mission: to team up with a teenage version of her mom, Young Pam (Olivia Holt), and put an end to the Sweet Sixteen Killer’s reign of terror. If they fail, Jamie risks being trapped in the past forever.
Kiernan Shipka’s portrayal of Jamie is a standout. Her spunky energy and modern-day determination make her a memorable final girl. The supporting cast doesn’t disappoint either. Sweet Sixteen Victims Tiffany Clark (Liana Liberato), Heather Hernandez (Anna Diaz), and Marisa Song (Stephi Chin-Salvo) channel the perfect “Heathers“-like vibe. Jamie’s time-traveling wiz mother-daughter-duo Young Lauren Creston (Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson) and Amelia Creston (Kelcey Mawema) make the best of their Doc from Back to the Future roles.
And too, Young Pam (Holt) and Young Blake (Charlie Gillespie) embody the spirit of the 80s as the quintessential homecoming royalty. On top of stopping a quintuple murder, Jamie’s got to keep Young Pam and Young Blake (her dad) from hooking up too soon, thus preventing her existence… and a home in 2023 to return to.
While Totally Killer’s premise is intriguing, it does falter a bit in its execution. Team Blumhouse loves to combine two opposing premises to make their modern slashers (Happy Death Day, Freaky),but the mechanics of their mash-ups could use more consistency. The time-travel element, though central to the plot, feels hastily thrown in. The film breezes through its justification …and miraculous human discovery, leaving the audience with more questions than answers. It’s a bold choice to use time travel as a blip of a plot device, but it might leave some viewers wanting a bit more depth. But hey, we’ve got murders to solve! Who needs a Nobel Prize?
Totally Killer’s humor is one of its standout features. Characters are filled with hilarious quips, ensuring that no scene, even the most intense ones, is devoid of a laugh. While the film does take a few playful jabs at the 80s, it doesn’t shy away from portraying its characters with all their delightful imperfections. They’re real, they’re messy, and they’re just trying to have a good time.
And then there’s the ‘Gravitron’ sequence. (You know, that spinny fair ride where you get stuck to a wall, trying not to barf, while a ride operator plays extremely loud house music?) It’s not every day you see a horror showdown in near-zero gravity. This scene is a testament to the film’s creativity, as our heroines face off against the Sweet Sixteen Killer in an environment that’s both thrilling and unexpected. Just killer.
“…a delightful concoction of horror, comedy, and 80s nostalgia.”
In wrapping up, Totally Killer is a delightful concoction of horror, comedy, and 80s nostalgia. It’s a whodunnit slasher that offers suspense and laughs in equal measure, making it a must-watch for fans of the genre.
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