Horror seems to be in constant conflict with critics, who never give the genre the respect that it deserves. Shudder’s latest original horror/comedy, Vicious Fun takes this concept and runs with it absurdly hilarious territory!
Serial Killer Support Group
We’re first introduced to Joel (Evan Marsh), the self-important founder of a horror magazine called “Vicious Fanatics” (which he’s told to change to “Vicious Fun” because it sounds better). All he does is complain about everything he watches, to the point that his friends and roommate find him a bit insufferable, and winds up drinking alone at an unfamiliar bar.
Through a series of unintended coincidences, Joel wakes up to find the bar is empty, except for a small group of people gathered in a circle of chairs, for what appears to be some sort of AA type meeting. At first Joel attempts to blend in, trying to figure out exactly what this group is for, until he’s horrified to learn the truth.
What follows is an insane fight for survival as this horror fan goes up against brutal killers, each of whom feels inspired by a different subgenre of horror. The members of the group are by far the most entertaining part of the movie.
It almost feels like each one could have been plucked from their own movie, and here they are together, not exactly working well together because of how different they are. One is all about total brutality and carnage, not really caring about evidence, another is meticulous and calculated, another is a cannibal, and one is the pure embodiment of the charming sociopath who can blend in anywhere.
Toying with Tropes
Everything about his movie screams 80’s horror, from the synth-inspired score, to the opening graphics of the film’s title, to the overabundance of bloody practical gore that will be sure to whet the sick appetite of everyone watching (myself included).
There are some great moments during the support group where the different killers question both the reason and logistics in each other’s methods, something that horror fans have always debated.
Later on, there’s a lengthy sequence in a police station, where the officers aren’t just horror movie dumb, they’re satirically horror movie dumb. There’s a few meta moments where they kind of admit that they’re acting dumber than they should, all in the name of hilarious satire.
For those who write reviews of horror movies and run websites devoted to the genre (which I undoubtedly am), Vicious Fun is a special kind of meta horror/comedy that will hit especially close to home.
Perhaps this is looking too closely into it, but Joel only seems to thrive when he abandons his snobbier nature, and fully embraces the horror material. It reminds us all that, while it’s fun to poke holes and criticize media that has flaws, the overall purpose is to be fun.
Overall, Vicious Fun perfectly delivers on both words contained in its title. There are vicious kills with lots of gore, and there’s a lot of fun along the way. Granted the support group scene is way shorter than it could have been, and the movie slows down a bit in the third act, but like Joel, I’m going to embrace the horror and the fun intentions, and just enjoy the kills!
What did you think of Vicious Fun? What are some of your favorite meta horror comedies? Let us know in the comments!
Vicious Fun is streaming exclusively on Shudder