‘TOTALLY Killer’ is a horror-slasher flick from Blumhouse, the production company that made horror hits like “Paranormal Activity” and “Insidious”. It’s the spooky season and if you want some thrills, watch “Totally Killer” that is a combination of “Halloween”, “Scream” and “Back to the Future”.
Set in Vernon, a town which has its own slasher legend, the story starts in 1987 when three young women, all 16 years old, are stabbed 16 times by a masked killer around Halloween.
He disappears but he is tagged as the Sweet 16 Killer. And now, after 35 years, he is back on the rampage again leaving his bloody trail.
His first victim is Pam Hughes (Julie Bowen), who was a good friend of the first three teenage victims. Pam is now married and has her own daughter, Jamie (Kiernan Shipka of “Mad Men”, “Sabrina”), who is attending a concert on the night that her mom was attacked by the killer at their very own home.
While she is in the town’s rundown amusement park that their school is using for their science fair, the killer shows up and attacks Jamie. She hides inside the photo booth where a friend is experimenting on a time machine.
The killer stabs her but she avoids his lunge and the knife pierces the time machine, making it work and Jamie is transported to Vernon in 1987. It dawns on her that if she could stop the killer before he does his first killing spree, then she can save her own mom’s life in the present.
She then starts looking for her mom and when she finally meets her and her friends (the first three victims), she realizes that they are mean girls who bully the other girls in school, including her.
Will Jamie succeed in her mission to alter history and save her unsuspecting mom from the killer? Director Nanatchka Khan supplies the expected blood and gore scenes, but she also manages to inject some humor.
The main source of comedy is the conflict of Jamie as a modern teen who has to cope with the pre-social media and internet world of the 80s. She has previously directed the charming romcom “Always Be My Maybe” which starred Korean American actor Randall Park, who is now also in “Totally Killer” playing a police chief.
The movie pokes fun into the differences of the contemporary world that Jamie knows, as compared to the one that her mother grew up in. There’s a lot of humor to be mined here and the ensuing clashes of culture are executed quite well.
The movie even pays tribute to Molly Ringwald and John Hughes youth movies so popular in the 80s. Khan is well served by Kiernan Shipka in the lead role.
She has proven herself competent in TV dramas but now, she brings the full force of her talent doing both comedy and horror with great results.
She gets to carry not just the movie but the rest of the cast as the main star, with her energy and commitment to the material proving to be highly contagious to her co-stars.
We also like that Jamie finally makes a connection with her overprotective mom, not only in the present but also in the past when they were both teenagers. That’s a poignant element to the film.