Continuing the tradition of each film in the cult Slumber Party Massacre series being directed by a female director, The Banana Splits Movie’s Danishka Esterhazy injects brutal new life into the killer franchise with this gory, funny and batshit insane romp. As it slashes through clichés and worn-out genre tropes, this wholly entertaining flick gloriously sets itself up for cult classic status.
In 1993, a group of girls are attacked at a lakeside slumber party by a psychotic drill-wielding maniac. In the present day, the daughter of the massacre’s sole survivor embarks on a slumber party of her own with her close friends. Will history repeat itself, or do these girls have some tricks up their sleeves?
Playful and self-aware, the film – described as a “modern reimagining”, oozes a nostalgic style in its look and feel. The whole thing feels like not only a love letter to the original series but to the decade’s filmmaking styles – and indeed the slasher genre. While it does frequently subvert expectations and toy with the usual gender roles, twists and turns, and narrative structures found in these films, it never feels over-the-top or self indulgent. Infact despite scenes of a man viciously drilling apart young people, it is oddly charming in its delivery. The humour throughout is perfectly executed too, with some genuinely hilarious moments as it turns the genre’s cliches on their heads – a needlessly sensual shower scene late in the film certainly brings guffaws, along with a gender-flipping all-male pillow fight that makes us realise just how truly absurd the objectification and sexualisation of young women in horror has been over the years.
The cast are all absolutely superb, with the leads – Hannah Gonera, Frances Sholto-Douglas, Alex McGregor, Mila Rayne and Reze-Tiana Wessels – absolutely killing it. Watch out for these ladies, I am certain we will be seeing more of each of them. Their performances are stellar and their characters are so genuinely likeable – it’s been a long time since I’ve last wanted to spend more time with the potential victims than the killer in a slasher flick! That said, Rob Van Vuuren is wonderfully deranged as the notorious killer Russ Thorn, and makes the iconic role his own.
Fans of the cult franchise will be delighted with the references and easter eggs, but newcomers to the series will be just as entertained by the slasher mayhem and genuine laughs – no prior knowledge is required to enjoy the ride.
This thrilling remake is faithful and respectful to the original – it’s clear that director Danishka Esterhazy and writer Suzanne Keilly are huge fans – while also breathing new life into the series. It’s an absolute masterclass in how to remake horror and one of the best slashers in years. Packed with enough self-awareness and expectation subversion to sink a Scream trilogy, Slumber Party Massacre is a dark delight that will surely earn a cult following of its own.
Available from Amazon and HMV now.