Who doesn’t love a good scary movie around Halloween? I’m a bit of a wuss, so I like my scary movies to not be too scary. I enjoy being spooked but not being scared so far out of my wits that it’s unpleasant. Because of that, it’s often hard for me to find good, new scary movies to watch since so many modern horror movies rely on jump scares that just make me anxious to a degree that’s entirely unenjoyable. Then along comes You Might Be The Killer, written by Brett Simmons, Thomas P. Vitale, and Covis Berzoyne and directed by Brett Simmons. Based on a viral twitter thread from authors Chuck Wendig and Sam Sykes, You Might Be the Killer is a horror-comedy where Sam (Fran Kranz) finds himself trapped at a summer camp, being hunted by a masked killer, and calls his friend Chuck (Alyson Hannigan) for help.
A camp counselor suffering from blackouts finds himself surrounded by murder victims. He turns to his horror movie enthusiast friend for advice, and to contend with the idea he may be the killer.
This movie is super silly. Like the Twitter thread it’s based on, You Might Be the Killer is totally a tongue-in-cheek story. Honestly, this is its best quality. It plays so heavily on horror tropes that if it wasn’t lovingly parodying them, it would just be a boring mess. But as a comedy in the same vein as Scream, it’s a really fun movie that genuinely succeeds at what it sets out to be. Essentially, the movie is a two-hander with Fran Kranz and Alyson Hannigan pulling double duty as our two leads. Alyson plays Chuck, the horror movie aficionado whose role is, mainly, to explain the tropes of the genre to Sam as he tries to survive the film and cope with the fact that he’s the killer (and all the baggage that comes with that). It’s not a super demanding role, but it’s a role that Alyson Hannigan handles superbly. With all the exposition she has to dish out, she easily could have been buried in it, but she’s able to deliver it with some nuance that’s honestly a bit surprising. Throughout the film, she’s able to give off this really interesting vibe where she understands what’s happening to Sam and why he’s doing what he’s doing and, while she doesn’t exactly condone his actions, she also doesn’t want anything bad to happen. It’s a really interesting conflict to portray and Alyson portrays it really well. You can never quite tell who’s side she’s on and that’s a lot of fun.
The bulk of the film rests on the shoulders of Fran Kranz. He has the impossible task of portraying Sam, the killer of the film, and making him both sympathetic and scary. As Sam, Fran has to start out being confused as hell and unsure about what’s going on and how he’s involved in and as the film goes on, his performance has to evolve to show Sam’s growing understanding of the situation and his feelings about having killed a bunch of his friends. Fran juggles the duality of Sam’s character really well. He’s able to play bumbling idiot one moment and scary monster the next and his performance is what ultimately makes this movie work. Much of the film’s humor, too, relies on the strength of Fran’s performance, both in terms of the way he delivers his lines and also in the way he embodies Sam physically. There’s a really great scene towards the end of the film where Sam has to wrestle with the mask he wears and it’s simultaneously hilarious and terrifying and that boils down to Fran’s performance.
If the film had a weak spot, it would be that – outside of its premise – the plot of the film is a bit predictable. But, honestly, that’s totally fine. The premise, alone, is original enough that the film’s other twists don’t have to be completely surprising. The whole point of the movie is to make fun of the various tropes of horror films, and that includes the predictability of them. There’s a character who we’re led to believe dies early on in the movie, but they ultimately return near the climax in a moment that’s totally predictable but no less enjoyable. These predictable twists end up working because of the fact that Sam and Chuck comment on them. There’s an awareness from the characters about how ridiculous the events of the film are and that awareness is a key part in making the actual plot of the film work. I don’t wanna go into any real specifics about the plot; it’s far more enjoyable if you go into it as blind as possible. Don’t expect your mind to be blown by any of the twists and you’ll have a lot of fun.
All in all, You Might Be the Killer is a super fun movie. It achieves the right balance between scary but not too scary, gory but not too gory, funny but not completely outrageous, and genuine but also tongue-in-cheek. The film succeeds largely due to some killer (pun intended) performances from Fran Kranz and Alyson Hannigan and a very clever premise from authors Chuck Wendig and Sam Sykes. Brett Simmons brings a lot of really interesting visual flair to the film as well. The gore is a mixture of practical effects and CGI and it really works. There’s something special about practical effects in horror films; CGI never quite looks as good as real (fake) blood and guts do and Brett Simmons utilizes as many practical effects as he can and augments it with the CGI. He also utilizes some really fun on-screen text to keep track of the nonlinear plotline by showing how many counselors are dead in any given scene. It’s another funny layer on top of a funny film and it just helps immediately set the atmosphere. You Might Be the Killer is the perfect Halloween movie to watch on a dark, autumn night. It’s pretty darn great.
4.5 out of 5 wands