The Austin Chronicle

AFF: The Wackness

By Marc Savlov, October 19, 2008, 7:20pm, Picture in Picture

Maybe we're spoiled, maybe we're jaded, maybe we're just coming down from our Fantastic Fest high, but we gotta say AFF "Comedy Vanguard" selection Psycho Sleepover is crazy bad. Not so-bad-it's-good bad, just, you know, the other kind. Granted, horror comedies are one of the trickiest balancing acts a filmmaker can attempt. Do it right and you have An American Werewolf in London. Do it wrong and you end up with An American Werewolf in Paris, or even worse, Vampire in Brooklyn. (Screw it up enough and you get to be the next John Landis and receive a life sentence in Hollywood jail, and who wants that?)

But seriously, Psycho Sleepover – from the creative team behind last year's way better Street Team Massacre – is a horror comedy in PR only. Horrible things occur, sure, and the late-night audience that packed the Alamo Ritz to watch them did emit a few sozzled laughs, but still, Shaun of the Dead this ain't.

During the post-film Q&A, director(s) Adam Deyoe and Eric Gosselin said, "This is kind of our rebuttal to [Amy Holden Jones 1982 pseudo-feminist genre entry] Slumber Party Massacre," which has got to be a real mind-warper for femme-film theorists and genre enthusiasts alike. Riven clear to the bone with wall-to-wall bad acting, bad camerawork, and just plain badness overall (but, sadly, not like this), it's hard to tell what was intentionally satirical and what was simply larkish fuck-uppery. The story – virginal Rachel Castillo has psycho boyfriend, kills psycho boyfriend, and five years later attends an all-girl sleepover only to find herself surrounded by yet more zany cutthroats – feels as though it's trying to parody everything from the sacred to the profane but the end result is painfully unfunny and somewhat less horrifying than an episode of Shining Time Station. Now that's scary.

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