Vicious Fun Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Shudder


Directed by Cody Calahan
Written by James Villeneuve and Cody Calahan (characters by)
2020, 101 minutes, Not Rated
Premiered on Shudder 29th June 2021

Evan Marsh as Joel
Amber Goldfarb as Carrie
Ari Millen as Bob
Julian Richings as Fritz


After getting drunk and passing out in a sketchy bar, a bitchy horror journalist named Joel (Evan Marsh) stumbles into a self-help group for serial killers. Quickly coming to understand the gravity of the situation, Joel attempts to blend in, passing himself off as one of the gang to survive. However, Joel soon learns that an encyclopaedic knowledge of horror cinema does not necessarily translate into usefulness in a real-world scenario. As a bitchy horror critic named Joel, you can imagine how distraught I was by this message.

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Luckily Joel has an ally in the mysterious Carrie (Amber Goldfarb) a serial killer who seems to specialize in killing serial killers. Trapped in a room with five bloodthirsty monsters, Joel and Carrie will need all of their wits about them to survive the night. It’s Green Room, but with serial killers instead of Nazis; From Dusk Till Dawn, minus the vampires. It'd be a solid backdoor pilot for an adaptation of the comic book Hack/Slash, too.

Cody Calahan’s comedy horror film has great fun playing with slasher convention, toying with multiple settings and different types of cinematic serial killer. There’s the company man (David Koechner), the slick psychopath (Ari Millen), the heavy Voorhees type (Robert Maillet), the cannibal (Sean Baek) and the creepy guy (a show-stealing Julian Richings). When it’s just the main cast sitting around shooting the shit, Vicious Fun is highly enjoyable. As charismatic and well-written as the characters are, this back-and-forth could have sustained a whole film by itself.

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Some momentum is lost when the dynamic shifts, leaving the bar and turning the film into a more conventional chase-em-up. Still, Calahan and screenwriter James Villeneuve never lose perspective, and the film retains its wit and charm through to the end. The cast bounce and riff off of each other, while the already-great Julian Richings somehow keeps on getting better as the movie goes on.

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This preppy, poppy horror film makes for easy viewing. Not taking its hero too seriously, Calahan is liberal with with both the gore and the jokes (including a great Hot Fuzz-esque running visual gag). While it feels a little padded-out at times, it boasts a great cast and an infectious enthusiasm. One might say that Vicious Fun does what it says on the tin, but it’s a little too good-natured to ever be truly ‘vicious’. They certainly got the fun part down, though. There’s plenty to like here, even if you’re not a bitchy horror journalist named Joel.

Vicious Fun is streaming now on Shudder


Movie: 4 Star Rating Cover

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Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
Other articles by this writer



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