All good things must come to an end. Such is the case with the 2018 Toronto After Dark Film Festival. We’ve spent 8 days enjoying a fine selection of horror and genre films from around the world. With one night left, it’s always best to leave them laughing. Which brings us to closing night film at the festival, You Might Be The Killer!
Inspired by an exchange of tweets between Sam Sykes and Chuck Wendig, You Might Be The Killer (directed by Brett Simmons) is the story of a camp counselor who finds himself in the middle of a cliched scary movie massacre. Looking for guidance on what to do to stay a live, he calls his friend who happens to be an expert on horror film tropes. While tracing back through his steps, Chuck (Alyson Hannigan) presents a the possibility that Sam (Fran Kranz) might actually be the killer. As the two attempt to confirm this, she stays on the line to assist him in staying alive through the night.
Horror comedies are difficult to pull off. They have to have the right amount of scariness to be considered a horror movie while still having a enough laughs to carry the viewer through the film. Add in the self-referential nature of the plot and the balance becomes even more difficult. Making your film based around an 88 minute phone conversation seems like a near impossible feat. If the audience is not on board from the start, they will not stick around to see who makes it to sunrise. The key is finding a protagonist (or is it antagonist in this case?) that has enough presence to hook ’em early. Thankfully, Fran Kranz has that presence.
From the start of this film, you are rooting for Sam, even if he might be the one killing everybody. Fran has a likability that’s present in almost all of his performances, but none so more than here. His exasperation over the situation is relatable and somehow believable. A fantastical situation like this seems like it would casually happen in this character’s life. While he is a hot mess throughout the film, it’s never in a way that’s off putting. Add in his chemistry with Hannigan as best friend Chuck (who technically never shares the screen with him), and the viewer is comfortable taking a ride through crazy town.
The main sticking point of the film is that it’s based on the meta concept of being stuck in a stereotypical horror movie plot. All the tropes and arch types are referenced, right down to the “final girl”. While this framework was used in an inventive way, it’s still a framework that horror fans will already know the ins and outs of. This takes the element of surprise, an important factor in both horror and comedy, off the table for the most part. Thankfully, the characters play off this handicap quite well.
If you’re a horror fan, you might find great delight and fun in a story that pays tribute to the sub-genre of sleep-away-camp slashers. On the other hand, you might find all the self-referential humour too self-involved. If you’re looking for a light, fun comedy, You Might Be The Killer delivers. There are two screenings tonight, the first of which (at 9:30PM) is sold out. You can get tickets to the second screening at 11:59PM HERE! And check out all of our coverage of TADFF18!
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!