Director and writer Brett Simmons certainly loves horror movie cliches—he's crafted an entire film around them with You Might Be the Killer. But whereas other films that have attempted to turn the genre on its head and poke fun at its most hallowed plot devices and scare tactics have embraced nuance and subtlety, Simmons gleefully calls attention to the humor and camp at all times.
It's present-ish day, and head summer camp counselor Sam (The Cabin in the Woods' Fran Kranz) prepares his staff for the incoming kiddos and a summer full of lake dives, nature hikes and friendship bracelets. But when the staff's bodies start piling up at the hands of a mysterious killer, Sam's would-be off-the-grid summer turns into a mad dash for survival. Or does it? See, turns out Sam's actually the killer himself, and he carries out his nefarious deeds while in the midst of recurring blackouts caused by a creepy mask that's a little bit Halloween and a whole lot Friday the 13th.
Normally, we'd have avoided the spoiler that is identifying the killer, but You Might Be the Killer isn't trying to hide it. It's a "twist" the filmmakers reveal in the title, even, and news delivered to Sam from his horror flick buff pal Chuck (Alyson Hannigan), with whom he speaks on the phone for much of the film. Chuck is the brightest spot in an otherwise only mildly funny (and we're not counting the hysterically gruesome gore) movie that would rather beat us over the head with how self-aware it is than allow the concept room to breathe. Hannigan is glorious in her deadpan delivery. She points out the horror movie tropes that'll probably befall Sam and his crew, nonchalantly predicts murders and seemingly enjoys the concept of a summer camp kill-a-thon playing out in real life on the other end of the phone. But, sadly, whenever a scene lacks Chuck, it almost always lacks laughs.
Over-the-top is forgivable and even enjoyable if it isn't relentless, and Killer often feels like it's relentlessly reminding us what it is. Such a tack will certainly speak to horror fans and even casual enjoyers of the genre, but without having done the proper homework, potential viewers may wind up confused or irritated. And that would be OK, too, if it weren't for numerous ham-fisted jokes that feel tired rather than self-referential or some of the most boring performances we've seen in ages. In other words, we were just looking to have fun—and did—but without a firm foundation of horror knowledge or a love of camp (both summer and humor), You Might Be the Killer feels too niche.
+Lambasts the horror genre; Alyson Hannigan
-Too over-the-top; too self-referential
You Might Be the Killer
Directed by Simmons
With Kranz and Hannigan
Jean Cocteau Cinema, NR, 87 min.