Fantastic Fest 2023: TOTALLY KILLER

For the closing night feature of this year’s Fantastic Fest, the programmers selected a fun and exciting movie that combines time travel and slasher horror. Totally Killer is more comedic than frightening but is nevertheless a very amusing ride. The film blends the humor of Back to the Future and the horror tropes of slashers like Halloween. I found myself laughing heartily and relishing in the mixture. In addition, the movie has an undeniable heart and winning spirit that will surely please both science-fiction and horror fans.

Kiernan Shipka stars as Jamie Hughes, an angsty high school student living in a town that has a dark history of murders committed when her parents were her current age. The killings took place on a fateful Halloween thirty-six years ago, and the mystery has continued to haunt Jamie’s town ever since. Unfortunately, it seems like the killer has reemerged and plans to wreak havoc again. Jamie gets attacked by the masked murderer, but she manages to escape via what is a time machine.

Jamie travels back to 1987 when her parents were in high school and just before the killings. She uses this opportunity to try and uncover the truth behind the murders and tries to convince her parents, the victims, and law enforcement to prepare for the worst. Unfortunately, no one believes Jamie, except for her best friend’s mother, Lauren (Troy Johnson), who helped create the time machine.

Written by David Matalon and Sasha Perl-Rave and directed by Nahnatchka Khan, Totally Killer is an absolute blast. The strength of the movie lies in the humor, which works wonderfully. The jokes involving Jamie’s reactions to 1987 are the absolute best. As someone who grew up during the 1980s, I could relate to the attitudes and sensibilities that dominated that era, particularly in parenting, teen social circles, and pop culture.

Kiernan Shipka is excellent as Jamie, the formidable and intelligent teen valiantly attempting to change history. The movie also features great turns by Julie Bowen and Lochlyn Munro as Jamie’s parents, in addition to Olivia Holt and Charlie Gillespie, who portray their teen counterparts. Troy Johnson, Liana Liberato, Kelcey Mawema, Stephi Chin-Salvo, Anna Diaz, Ella Choi, and Randall Park also deliver fun performances.

Totally Killer is now available for streaming via Amazon Prime. It is an entertaining comedy/horror movie I highly recommend.

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