by Hope Madden
Even serial killers need someone to talk to. Just hope it’s not you.
That, in a nutshell, is the premise of Cody Callahan’s latest, Vicious Fun.
In this 80s-era horror-comedy, sad sack Joel (Evan Marsh in kind of a Jon Cryer role) is a nice guy. He’s just kind of an idiot who can’t take a hint.
One evening he drowns his sorrows, passes out, and sobers up to find himself in a late-night support group for serial killers. He’s not a member—a fact the others sniff out pretty quickly—and shit goes south post haste.
Callahan’s script winks with a kind of embarrassed affection toward the horror nerd. Joel’s a screenwriter wannabe and is perhaps too proud of his position as horror journalist for a fan magazine.
The serial killers here are not so much your garden variety psychos as they are typical horror movie monsters. Vicious Fun shows no end of self-deprecating charm, and Callahan’s solid cast is in on the joke.
Earlier this year, Callahan impressed with the boozy Canadian hillbilly noir The Oak Room, where he took advantage of Ari Millen’s versatility and peculiarity. Here Millen dives more fully into his peculiar side, throwing shades of McConaughey at his most unhinged for a character who’s never quite what he seems but is always attention-getting.
The enormous Robert Maillet (Becky) fits his character, physically and emotionally, to a tee, while Julian Richings (Anything for Jackson) surprises in a dual role. Amber Goldfarb cuts an impressive presence as the film’s badass, and David Koechner is David Koechner, but when isn’t that fun?
There aren’t enough nice guys in horror movies. Hats off to Callahan for not only finding a unique and fun premise in an overcrowded genre but for appreciating the precious jewel that is the nice guy.