It is still a Tuesday and I had a one little slot in hand to take a quick look at my watchlist and handpick a film. And because we had crossed Friday the 13th last week, it made perfect sense to handpick a slasher horror which is always an exciting genre. With that, I finished watching the new English film Totally Killer which is now streaming on Amazon Prime. The slasher genre has always been an exciting affair at this time of the year during Halloween. Films like I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream or even A Nightmare On Elm Street have over the years attained the status of a cult but the major downfall of the genre was attributed to the replication of stories. Situations like a girl being butchered while her friends investigate the case only to find one amongst them as the final killer, is a tried and tested formula that doesn’t quite offer anything new. And so there are films being made like the Fear Street trilogy or even a very different kind of a Scream film titled Scream 6 that have successfully re-energized the genre. And I was expecting a similar shift given the premise of Totally Killer, does it manage to impress…let’s find out.
Story & Screenplay
Totally Killer follows the story of a protagonist who travels to the past to stop a masked killer from committing murders and in turn saving her mother too. The story here is quite interesting given that it combines the slasher genre with the concept of time travel. But the story loses a little bit of its steam when it sways away from the slasher genre and instead focuses on being a chick-flick. The screenplay standing at just above a 100 minutes is taut and crisp but in trying to integrate multiple genres, it doesn’t exactly succeed all the way.
The drama does open in an interesting fashion wherein the setting is of a Halloween at a town which has seen a surge of murders in the past. There is a quirky tone to the proceedings with some of the antics on show but there is also ample amounts of tension with the atmospherics especially with respect to the Halloween season. You are introduced to the protagonist who is discouraged from venturing out by her mother who was witness to the murders during her school days. But her adamancy comes with a price when her mother is murdered by a masked killer who is now after her life. But the twist of fate allows her to transport to the 1980s wherein she now has a chance to put a stall to the killings and also save her mother. But things aren’t as smooth as she expects them to be.
The drama has a good premise but slowly the shift in the genre to a comedy and a tilted towards a chick-flick just sucks the tension away from the drama. I really did not mind the time travel bit(and the homage to Back To The Future was definitely there) and parts of the comedy did work too but what the mishmash of genres did was reduce the overall impact of the drama. The tension that was prevalent in the air at the beginning of the film just fizzled out in the middle because of the introduction of comedy. Yes, the vibrancy of the 80s is decently showcased but there needed to be a bit more urgency especially after the first murder takes place. The frivolous nature of the group doesn’t quite gel well with the mood that ought to have been for the drama. And that is the insufferable part of the film – the second act.
The drama does get a little better especially when it chooses to refocus on the killings, afterall that is what we had signed up for! The events leading up to the final act do bring the drama back on track to an extent although I would still have wished for things to have been further fleshed out. The revelation(s) at the end again did seem to be half-baked and it never quite gave me an impression that a guessing game needed to be played all along. The quirky ending was fine but the slasher genre fan in me was a little disappointed. Overall, the screenplay has its moments but never really rises to its full potential.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are cheesy and corny and decent at the end of the day. The BGM is plain average and the drama lacked a tense theme while focusing on the comedy. The cinematography is decent but nothing much to shout about. The VFX is pretty weak even for a time travel film. The editing of the film is good and that is primarily the reason why a couple of jumpscares do work. Director Nahnatchka Khan does a decent job with the premise but she briefly loses the plot in between while trying to balance different genres. She does find a foothold in the third act but overall her work remains decent.
The performances are pretty decent as well. Stephi Chin-Salvo as Marissa, Anna Diaz as Heather, Charlie Gillespie as Blake and Jeremy Monn-Djasgn as Randy are quite good. Olivia Holt as Pam looks pretty and does a good job. Kiernan Shipka as Jamie is wonderful to watch and atleast does try and instill a bit of urgency to the proceedings.
Totally Killer is a decent slasher comedy that never really rises to its full potential. Available on Amazon Prime.