Film Review: “Totally Killer”

Starring: Kiernan Shipka, Olivia Holt and Charlie Gillespie
Directed By: Nahnatchka Khan
Rated: R
Running Time: 103 Minutes
Amazon Prime Video

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Some of the hardest genres to write are comedy and horror. So, even if a comedy-horror ultimately comes off as generic, but still manages to tickle the funny bone while splattering the screen with blood and gore, that’s a good time in my book. While not a sharp generational criticism like 2022’s “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies,” or an entertaining mockery of horror tropes like “Scare Package,” “Totally Thriller” earns points for tackling one of the toughest genres with enough scattered jokes, gruesome kills and a dash of “who cares, just enjoy it” attitude to become an enjoyable slice of comedy-horror. Emphasis on the comedy.

“Totally Killer” opens on Halloween 2023 in the small town of Vernon which still can’t escape October 1987, when a masked killer, referred to as the Sweet 16 Killer, murdered three 16-year-old high-school girls by stabbing them 16 times. I’m not sure why he didn’t kill 16, but I digress. Pam Hughes (Julie Bowen) lives in fear that the killer will return, especially since she was friends with all three victims. Her daughter Jamie (Kiernan Shipka) is all like, “Whatever mom, get over it. Leave me the hell alone.” Then her mom is murdered by the Sweet 16 Killer. Distraught, Jamie meets up with her friend who is building a time machine (this is the first of many instances where the movie gets intentionally silly and once again shrugs its shoulders). Later on, Jamie is attacked by the Sweet 16 Killer only to be transported back in time to October 1987 through a bizarre knife to the time machine interface mishap.

“Totally Killer” works because it seems like as the film progresses, Jamie is slowly realizing she’s in a bad slasher film. Jamie name drops horror and time travel films, including “Back to the Future” which “Totally Killer” steals heavily from, comments on the out-of-date circumstances throughout the 80s and seemingly doesn’t mind screwing up the space time continuum by changing history. The film also gives away its future plot points through its movie name drops as if to say originality dies in this film with the teens. Even the killer’s mask, one we’ve never seen before, looks like Max Headroom doing Jim Carrey’s patented eyebrow raise. I’m not sure if anything in this movie isn’t a reference, wink or nod to something else. Like I said, this movie just kind of shrugs and goes, “Here’s a joke and knife to the guts.”

While this could normally ruin a film, “Totally Killer” just relishes in its own ridiculousness and it’s helped by Shipka’s performance which matches every scene perfectly. When she needs to point out the absurdity of a plot point, she does. When she needs to be the parent in charge of a bunch of horny drug fueled teens to make sure they don’t die, she does. When she needs to deliver exposition without questioning the absolute stupidity of what’s happening, she does. Even in the final act, when she has to be the movie’s badass, she does. If Shipka wasn’t with us on this crazy time traveling journey, “Totally Killer” would totally suck.

“Totally Killer” is totally unoriginal, but still totally fun. It’s a film that utilizes every slasher cliché while ridiculing the 80s decade it pulled those same clichés from. Sure, some of the jokes are predictable and the parody isn’t witty like “Airplane,” but “Totally Killer” is so comfortable with what it’s doing that you ultimately relax and wait for the next unpredictable joke or slasher moment. The whole intent of the film is to entertain, no matter how cheesy, lazy and predictable it sometimes is. There’s something admirable if not ultimately meta about that. Maybe “Totally Killer” will ultimately be forgotten and I’ll never watch it again, but if its entire intent was to make me chuckle and make me forget about the cruel world around me for 103 minutes, mission accomplished. 




Amazon Prime ‘Activates’ The Tick and Lore at NYCC

Fans looking to escape the crowded New York Comic Con show floor this past weekend were taken care of by a pair of immersive ‘activations’ presented by Amazon Prime. On site at the Jacob Javits Center, the streaming service introduced two of its newest series, The Tick and Lore, in style. I was fortunate enough to spend time exploring both experiences with some friends over the course of the con weekend and needless to say, they got me hyped to check out the shows.

My first stop was The Tick’s massive Dangerboat installation on the upper level of the con. Dangerboat is not just the headquarters to the Tick’s nemesis, Overkill, but also has a sentient artificial intelligence all its own (on the show he’s played by geek icon Alan Tudyk). In keeping with that, NYCC’s Dangerboat was also talking and fully sentient and began immediately interacting with my crew when we boarded.

Both of Amazon’s experiences were connected to an RFID wrist tag that we registered before entering. In Dangerboat the tag was used to print out our custom Aegis database ID as well as getting our own tin of FO HAM. Thankfully the tin actually contained “NEAT!” Tick pins and not canned meat. Dangerboat concluded with a fun green screen video op that with yet another swipe of wrist tags was emailed or posted wherever we chose. All told, Dangerboat took my group about a half hour to fully interact with due to the level of options on the various screens, not to mention the funny rapport we developed with a sentient boat(!) which was pretty incredible as far as con setups go. Whomever was the mind behind Dangerboat certainly captured the humor and spirit of the show itself and provided some of the best laughs of the weekend.

About The Prime Exclusive Series, The Tick:
“Bursting with scabrous original storylines that turn on a dime, The Tick is a comedy with kinetic action, a wryly inventive visual style and crisply quotable dialogue. Heroes have flown among us for decades but mild-mannered accountant Arthur Everest (GRIFFIN NEWMAN) one day finds out there are also genuine bad guys in this new Amazon Original Series. He believes he has proof that The City, where he was born and raised, is actually controlled by a global super-villain known as the Terror (JACKIE EARLE HALEY). Destiny soon brings Arthur together with an eccentric, tall, blue-suited muscleman with a mysterious past and list of superpowers: The Tick (PETER SERAFINOWICZ). The title character serves as both the conscience and the unchecked id of the story. Citing the call of destiny, the Tick procures for Arthur a moth outfit with retractable wings and insists that he suit up as his sidekick. He and Arthur are the ultimate odd couple, but may just bring out the best in each other. In their quest to take back The City, the unlikely pair of heroes quickly sees just how complex the struggle between good and evil has become.”
The Tick returns to Amazon on February 23rd 2018

Descending down a level into the Museum of Lore was yet another unique RFID experience and definitely welcome this Halloween month. Based on the hit podcast, Lore sets out to retell the true life macabre stories that inspire some of horror’s most notorious tropes. In a series of interactive rooms, my group tromped through haunted dolls, magical mirrors and werewolves as presented by a trio of delightfully over the top actors. Utilizing our RFID bands, we were rewarded with messages from The Other Side and a cool photo souvenir over a pretty twisted werewolf buffet….

About The Prime Exclusive Series, Lore:
“Sometimes the scariest stories are true. Lore is based on the global, award-winning podcast sensation from creator Aaron Mahnke, and executive produced by Ben Silverman (The Office), Howard T. Owens (The Biggest Loser), Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead), Brett-Patrick Jenkins (Face Off), Glen Morgan (X-Files), Jon Halperin and Mark Mannucci (A Year in Space). Lore brings the podcast to life and tells the real life origin stories that have led to our modern day myths and legends, including vampires, changelings, werewolves, séances and possessed dolls.”
Lore is fittingly debuting on Friday October 13th.