Slumber Party Massacre (2021)

Director: Danishka Esterhazy

Running Time: 83 Minutes

Certification: 18

Starring: Hannah Gonera, Frances Sholto-Douglas, Alex McGregor, Mila Rayne, Reze-Tiana Wessels, Rob van Vuuren, Jennifer Steyn, Schelaine Bennett, Masali Baduza

In 1993, a group of friends have a sleepover in a cabin to help Trish (Masali Baduza) get over her cheating ex. These girls just wanna have fun, that's what they really want, although a serial-killer with a power-drill has other ideas in mind. Flashforward to the present day, where only survivor Trish (Schelaine Bennett) has become severely affected by that horrific night. She's now an overly-protective mother with multiple locks on her front door, that regularly gives survival tips to her teenage daughter, Dana (Hannah Gonera).

Dana is having a getaway with her friends, although things become familiar as their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, complete with a notice board full of missing dogs. They stay overnight at an isolated cabin in the woods, similar to where Trish survived all those years prior. History appears to be repeating itself, as a power-drill wielding murderer returns to stalk a new generation.

In an age of legacy sequels, there's always the worry a franchise revival will miss the mark regarding what made the original so beloved. Thankfully, this screenplay appropriately full of smart writing and wit has captured the spirit of Amy Holden Jones' 1982 classic. Writer Suzanne Keilly offers fun subversions of slasher tropes, as best seen in how the scantily-clad male characters are utilized. A memorable highlight are a pair labelled "Guy One" and "Guy Two" rather than being given proper names, bringing to mind how women characters were treated in some 80's slashers.

While the humorous elements work well, the moments of horror unfortunately feel lacking. This tale reaches grisly and gory heights, yet the terror is rarely felt in this tonally mismatched feature, particularly when the third act succumbs to convention. None of this takes away from the terrific performances into mostly well-rounded characters, especially Rob van Vuuren's memorably wide-eyed portrayal as the murderous Russ Thorn.

What director Danishka Esterhazy has crafted never forgets its roots, particularly with the suggestive placement of a power drill or the discovery of an interestingly shaped guitar. More importantly is how this feature feels driven by pure rage, as real-life sees women murdered only to be treated as name-less bodies for violent men's actions.

Slumber Party Massacre will be available on Digital Download now, and will be available on DVD from 10th January 2022