Remakes. The horror genre loves them. Sometimes they really work and transcend the original (The Thing). Sometimes they’re nearly universally hated (The Fog). And other times, they’ll surprise you (House of Wax – my go-to example now).
So I was both very excited and rather nervous about the remake of Slumber Party Massacre. The original film is by no means perfect. The sequel, however, is. Despite any flaws, the original trilogy remains a very important cult trilogy. It was the first series of horror films to be entirely written and directed by women. And to my knowledge, remains the only one.
I was fairly disappointed with the results of Black Christmas (2019), but overall was just bewildered by the backlash. Was it because it offended the men too much? Lord knows. But 2021’s Slumber Part Massacre wasn’t met with nearly any of the vitriol that the other was. And it’s kind of obvious why.
In 1993, a group of friends are targeted by a drill-wielding killer, Russ Thorn. There was only one survivor of that slumber party – Trish. She manages to knock the killer into the lake, but years later remains unconvinced that the man is dead.
Present-day Trish is paranoid. After Russ’s assault and the murder of her friends, she keeps a close eye on her daughter, Dana. She’s been reduced to being a nameless joke while Russ’s name continues on in infamy thanks to trashy true crime podasts. When Dana and her friends go off on a trip together, Trish can’t help but fret more than ever.
The girls casually lie to Trish, but quickly make their way to a cabin at the lake. Not the cabin, but one nevertheless. They begin their night of fun. When Maeve’s little sister discovers a body nearby with its eyes missing, the girls admit this: they were trying to lure out Russ all along, finally catching and killing the son of a gun.
And surprise! Nothing goes quite to plan. With their “no murders” goal already shattered, the girls must work together to stop Russ once and for all and save themselves. They’re not the average nameless characters in a slasher movie: they’re smart, funny and flawed. The perfect heroines!
The girls eventually stumble upon a cabin full of men. The boys are there to have a party! They have pillow fights, dance around in their undies and just let loose! The cliches are over-the-top for a reason: to make a point. And some of these points are very on the nose.
“This is part of your big feminist plot to get rid of all the men!”
“That was a really sexist thing to say.”
“Yeah. I’m sorry.”
But some are more subtle, like the way Trish is able to fight back and claim victory over her own trauma (there are plenty of references to podcasts and the lack of respect for victims throughout).
The movie doesn’t make fun of men, so much as it pokes fun at the stereotypes genders are often forced into for slashers. They’re flawed in a horror-movie way, but they also seem really nice? The Guy 1/Guy 2 gag cracked me up, even after the joke was repeated for the fifth time. Chuckling even now writing this! Director Danishka Esterhazy and writer Suzanne Keilly did a great job of embracing the genre while also picking it apart.
I loved the little nods to the original movies: the little sister getting in the way, the red guitar, the telephone repair van, the cooler gag. It made me want to rewatch the originals all over again, while still managing to make me love it on its own. And that, I think, is the sign of a good remake.
Slumber Party Massacre (2021) was much more of a comedy than I was expecting, but I’ve actually grown fond of that idea after the initial shock. It doesn’t take itself seriously, but it’s still passionate about the ladies at the centre of the story. There are definitely some loose threads at the end, making me very hopeful for a sequel. I can only hope it has the freedom and budget to truly let loose.
I’m looking forward to marathoning all four movies. This remains top-tier horror fun.