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  Slumber Party Massacre Staying Up Past Dreadtime
Year: 2021
Director: Danishka Esterhazy
Stars: Hannah Gonera, Frances Sholto-Douglas, Mila Raine, Alex McGregor, Reze-Tiana Wessels, Rob Van Vuuren, Jennifer Steyn, Schelaine Bennett, Masali Baduza, Michael Lawrence Potter, Eden Classens, Nathan Castle, Richard White, Braeden Buys
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Back in 1993, Trish Deveraux (Masali Baduza) headed off to a secluded house in the remote forest with her friends for some privacy so they could hold a slumber party, but they would be interrupted. When she walked out to their car to pick up something, a figure loomed up behind her and gave her a fright - it was her ex-boyfriend Chad who refused to let her go, accusing her of having the party to cheat on him when actually it was he who had cheated on her. She tells him where to go, and is soon back inside where the fun is going with a swing, but Chad is spying on them from outside the window, until he notices someone doing exactly the same thing from the opposite window to his. Incensed, he goes to investigate and is drilled to death for his trouble...

The trend of cheapo horror remakes and sequels - and occasionally, originals - filmed in South Africa with local talent continued with this reboot of the Slumber Party Massacre series, one distinguished by being a female take on the slasher genre when producer Roger Corman handed the reins to women directors rather than men. The reason for this may not have been entirely noble, as if a woman was responsible for the violence on screen, the series was less likely to be criticised for being a misogynist horror only made to present the staged murders of young ladies, and though they were not revolutionary in practice, they did manage to work up the novelty value of the feminine touch for a set of shockers that otherwise would not have attracted the same attention under male guidance.

So it was that Danishka Esterhazy, who had fumbled a Banana Splits horror reboot previously, was given the chance to redeem herself with this remake, and to an extent she proved a safe pair of hands behind the camera when it came to bringing out the satirical elements of Suzanne Keilly's screenplay. It was not a radical reimagining, there were many aspects from the first two instalments retooled for use here, but it did have a sense of fun, a sense of pantomime, that proved very winning, with a largely younger cast ready, willing and able to drag the slasher tropes into the twenty-first century. The big twist was maybe not so surprising if you were aware of how the killer was treated in the original (here Rob Van Vuuren was a fine impressionist when it came to recreating that first film's killer), but it did give the proceedings a shot in the arm and made you warm to it.

The plot had Trish (now Shelaine Bennett) fretting over allowing her daughter Dana (Hannah Gonera) off on a girls' trip, despite her reassurances to her mother all will be well. Knowing that slashers often depend on coincidences for their motives, you may be sceptical, but the movie is playing with your expectations, you should acknowledge that by now, and once the girls get out to their location for the party you won't be shocked to learn it is the same one where Trish met her alarming incident that bumped off most of her pals. To wink at the audience, and bring in the female horror fans who appreciated being so shamelessly pandered to, there was a boys' slumber party across the way which results in a shirtless pillow fight the girls get to ogle (there was a gratuitous shower scene too - but with a bloke). Mostly the jokes were solid, and if they tried a little too hard to develop variations on or reactions to the male gaze, overall this was one remake that did not disgrace the source, though that may be because there was not much to disgrace. Music by Andries Smit.

[Slumber Party Massacre will be available on Digital Download from 13th December 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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