The Movie Waffler Screamfest LA 2022 Review - KILLHER | The Movie Waffler

Screamfest LA 2022 Review - KILLHER

killher review
Four female campers are threatened...but by whom?

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Robyn August

Starring: MC Huff, Jenna Z. Alvarez, Emily Hall, Nicole Lovince, Tom Kiesche

killher poster

Director Robyn August opens his postmodern backwoods slasher KillHer with an in-media-res flash-forward that might have been taken from any number of movies of its ilk. An attractive young blonde woman runs screaming through the woods, the Evil Dead style tracking camera seemingly assuming the POV of some would-be attacker. By the time we return to that scene later in the narrative, it plays very differently as by that point August has twisted our expectations of how these films play out.

The blonde in question is Eddie (MC Huff), the boisterous BFF of Mattie (Jenna Z. Alvarez), an affable type who has "Final Girl" written all over her. We meet them as Eddie dons a scary mask and plays a prank on her friend, who is about to get married to her boyfriend Jagger (Jack Schumacher). Eddie is something of a female cousin of the horror geek played by Matthew Lillard in Scream, though she's nowhere near as obnoxious. Huff and Alvarez have a charming little dynamic that makes us instantly warm to the pair, which makes us immediately dislike their other two "friends", Jess (Emily Hall) and Rae (Nicole Lovince), a snarky pair of mean girls who make jokes behind Mattie's back and to Eddie's face.

killher review

Despite their seeming mismatched relationship, the quartet heads deep into the woods for a pre-bachelorette party, where Mattie expects to be joined by Jagger. Pitching their tent next to an empty tent they assume belongs to Jagger, the girls are surprised to find it occupied by the ironically named Mr. Rogers (Tom Kiesche, author of the screenplay), a burly man who bears a worrying resemblance to the killer from Wolf Creek. He's also got a tent full of weapons and is none too happy to find four squealing girls pitched next door.

With everything set in place for a seemingly conventional "girls hunted in the woods by maniacal killer" thriller, August and Kiesche begin dismantling our expectations like a tent on a Bank Holiday Monday morning. The girls joke about how stupidly the protagonists of horror movies tend to act, yet we watch as they tick off the very same mistakes themselves. Through flashbacks to events a week earlier, we realise that all is not what it seems and someone has ulterior motives.

killher review

You may well guess who the killer is before the mid-movie reveal, but without spilling the beans I'll just say that thanks to an enthusiastic performance from the performer in question, the movie is given an extra boost of energy often lacking from similar fare. Unlike many backwoods slashers, which force us to spend a ridiculous amount of time watching the heroes and potential victims trek through the woods before the action kicks in, August gets things going quite early while also keeping us guessing about certain details of what exactly is afoot here. The movie zips along, gobbling its 88 minutes like Pacman on steroids.

If there's one complaint it's that KillHer can't quite decide on the tone of its comedy. It works best when mining a particularly dark strand of humour, not so much when it resorts to Troma-esque silliness in its final act. But there's enough here to suggest that with a slightly more consistent vision, the directing and writing duo of August and Kiesche have enough distinctive talent to eke out a place in the crowded field of indie horror.

 played at Screamfest LA.

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