Fantastic Fest Review: You Might Be the Killer
Fran Kranz and Alyson Hannigan take on serial killer tropes
By Richard Whittaker,
7:00AM, Sat. Sep. 22, 2018
Ever been at camp, and there's crazed killer in a weird mask wandering around, and they're butchering all the counselors? It happens so often, and now it's happening to Sam (Fran Kranz). Which is particularly embarrassing, since his family owns the camp, and then there's a whole tale of a cursed woodsman's grave complicating matters.
With Chiller Network (R.I.P.) faves like creature feature Animal, and his underseen adaptation of The Monkey's Paw, writer/director Brett Simmons proved he could do competent, fun, slightly bloody horrors. In a way, they were a testing ground for Killer, which takes all the established rules and – à la Scream – both pokes fun at them and sticks rigorously to the equation. But the twist is that there's no Randy Meeks handing out advice to help dodge the rules. Instead, all Sam has is his comic-store friend Chuck (Alyson Hannigan), who knows how these things work, but she's finishing her shift at work, so the best she can do is be a mostly supportive voice at the other end of the line.
Basing his script (unlikely as it sounds) on a now near-legendary Twitter exchange between authors Sam Sykes and Chuck Wendig (don't read it now – it's pretty spoilerific), Simmons has some real fun with a back-and-forth timeline (and ever-shifting kill clock for the counselor body count), and some of the most Karo syrup-drenched deaths this side of a Hatchet film.
While Wes Craven's deconstructionist franchise may have invented (and arguably perfected) the meta-serial killer flick, this blood-splattered romp chops its way toward the more comedic end of the self-aware slayer genre, most especially the beloved Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. For that, it depends on Kranz and Hannigan, who are never in the same place but constantly in communication: their easy affability, and the fact they never dance around the fact that they're deep in summer camp killer country, makes the craziness work.
Plus, playing in a knowing way with genre conventions has been Kranz's stock-in-trade since The Cabin in the Woods. He's arguably the best beleaguered horror hero since Matthew Lillard: and honestly, if Lillard ever decides to step away from the role of Shaggy after 16 years as Scooby-Doo's best buddy, Kranz would be a worthy successor.
You Might Be the KillerWorld premiere Wed., Sept. 26, 11:50pm
Fantastic Fest runs Sept. 20-27. For more news, reviews, and interviews, as well as our daily show with the oneofus.net podcast network, visit austinchronicle.com/fantastic-fest.