The slasher movie had its boom period from 1980 to 1983 after the success of Friday the 13th, with a brief spike in the late ‘90s after Scream. While the sub-genre does have its flaws, there’s much to recommend some of these films, including good use of effects and suspense. As such, many look back on these days fondly, and there have been some good tributes to them over the years. Bloody Homecoming is one that tries to bring the ‘80s style slasher into the present day, but really doesn’t pull it off. In an age when titles like The Cabin in the Woods and You’re Next have turned much of the concept on its head, a new film is this vein has to do a lot to really stand out. Not only does this title fail on this level, it fails on nearly every level.
At Winston High, on homecoming night, a group of friends separate from the main dance to have an evening together elsewhere on the school grounds. But at that gathering, one of the party ends up locked in a storeroom and burned alive. Three years later, the school is finally having another homecoming dance, and all the students from that night are ready for the end of their senior year. But someone is determined that their school days won’t be the only thing ending tonight.
What one immediately notices about this is how cheap and amateurish it all looks. Now a low budget doesn’t automatically mean low quality, far from it, but it’s really a question of filmmakers who know how to use what they have. In this film, we have a major college homecoming football game happening entirely off-scream, and it seems like, given the people at the dance, there are a total of about twenty students in the school. A decent low budget film would have avoided having such scenes that only serve to draw attention to the lack of funds. In an age when YouTube videos can be made with cinematography that looks as slick as studio fare, there is no excuse for one that looks this shoddy.
This might be forgiven if the plot was decent. But instead what’s delivered is the plot of almost every slasher movie ever made. It’s hard to say whether a lack of self-awareness to the degree this movie demonstrates is a perfect cliché storm is a good or bad thing. While Scream-style referencing can grate at times, it would have livened up a completely stock storyline. It starts with the obligatory horrific event that kicks of the chain of deaths years later, but here it’s not shocking because it’s the victim’s own direct fault in a combination of meanness and utter incompetence. There’s the usual sort of mystery of who the killer (who looks really silly in their fireman’s gear) is, with a lot of potential suspects who all turn out to be red herrings. When the real killer is revealed it’s a surprise because there have been virtually no clues or anything to it, their motivation is really stupid and they don’t even give a reason why they waited three years before doing it. Plus the ultimate resolution is really anti-climactic, with a final shot that’s just plain idiotic.
The whole think is lacklustre on almost every level. The characters seldom rise above the levels of “the bitchy one”, “the gay one” etc., and when they do get more to them, that usually means it’s time for them to die. It’s hard to judge the actors, as although performances are not great, they are an inexperienced cast who haven’t exactly gotten the best of material to work with. The storyline is full of holes, with perhaps the biggest one being “why don’t the fleeing victims all head straight back to the gym where everyone is yelling their heads off for help?”. There are a few decent chase scenes with some of the expendable meat characters, but they lack any real tension. The biggest issue with the film is that there’s virtually nothing new or unique to distinguish it from the twenty-million or so other slashers it’s paying homage to. There aren’t even that interesting gore effects, with more than a few mostly off-screen deaths, and one of the most ludicrous suffocation scenes in a motion picture.
It does feel awkward to award to a production that was obviously made with a lot of love for the subgenre a bad review, but Bloody Homecoming is just a waste of time. It’s poorly paced, made without real thought as to where best to focus resources, isn’t scary in the slightest, and worst of all boring. While it is nice to see a film look back to a previous age of horror, rather than just go along with the flavour of the month (i.e. found footage), perhaps it is better this era and genre is left to rest.