I’m a sucker for films that are about or take place around Halloween. So I was delighted when I discovered The Funhouse Massacre, a slasher film that takes place in a haunted house. Unfortunately, the film is nowhere near as fun as the title and plot would have you believe. I never expected a masterpiece, but I wanted more than what I got. Director Andy Palmer’s love of the genre is apparent, but it almost feels like he’s approaching the film from a fan’s perspective and not a filmmaker. He gets so caught up in cramming in every horror trope he can think of, that he forgets to add any actual substance.
The film follows a group of friends that head to a local haunted attraction on Halloween. The group is comprised of the usual suspects. There’s the nerd, the obvious protagonist, the slut, and the douche/jock. The gang arrives hoping to get laid and maybe get spooked, but unbeknownst to them, there is a real threat lurking. A merry band of psychopaths have escaped from the institution and taken up residence inside the walls of the haunt, and they’re out for blood.
The story is simple, but I like the concept. It’s the execution I take issue with. The problem starts with the characters. I know better than to demand depth from my slasher film characters, but even so, they need something that makes you as a viewer care about them. This bunch seem to go out of their way to be annoying. Even the love story between the heroine and the nerd feels forced and too “quirky”. The slut seems to repeat about every five minutes that she loves sex, you know in case you forgot. It’s not just the victims that grate on the nerves. It’s the villains too. I like that the villains each were distinct and stuck to their killing M.O., but it wasn’t enough to make them memorable. The best killer was without a doubt the clown girl who enjoys wearing people’s faces. However, even she just seems like a Harley Quinn knockoff.
Of course the writing of these characters weighs on the performances. It’s difficult to tell whether the actors are just bad, or if it was the direction, or if they simply didn’t have enough to work with. I could see potential in Matt Angel as the goofy guy trying to impress the girl and Candice De Visser as the homicidal clown girl. Again, though I don’t think this film can be used to measure anyone’s talent.
Then there’s the constant banter. There’s just too much chit chat in this film. Not every line of dialogue needs to be a punch line or something witty. The writer should’ve just let the jokes evolve from the situation, instead of trying to cram them down the viewer’s throats. It’s mostly just a case of the writers thinking they were way more clever than they actually are.
The visuals of the movie are actually quite striking. The bold colors of the funhouse create a festive atmosphere that plays well with all the over the top gore. The shots are carefully composed and if the film was on mute it might actually be enjoyable.
There isn’t too much to say overall about The Funhouse Massacre. It’s got flash, but not much else. The Funhouse Massacre could be a pretty cool “B” movie, but it just tries too hard and ends up failing on most levels. I’d compare it to James Roday’s cinematic directorial debut, Gravy. Both take place on Halloween, both have the look and to some extent the feel, but neither leave much of an impression. A word to the wise, if you see this online or at the Redbox, just skip over it.