So You Might be the Killer is one of the newest of Shudder exclusive horror movies. The description of the movie is that Sam flees from a masked killer where he is a camp counselor only to discover that he might, in fact, be the very person he is fleeing from. Given the title and that description I was excited to give this a go; unfortunately, that’s not really what this movie is. What You Might be the Killer actually is a meta-horror possibly horror comedy. This presented a bit of a problem for me on the first viewing, but I gave it a second go to try to see where I actually landed.
Now I have to start this with saying the set up with expectations left a sour taste in my mouth (which left me pretty biased against it which was not cool of me). I was actually looking forward to a more psychological movie with the looming question over whether or not Sam was the killer or being manipulated. In fact, now I really want that movie to be real. The issue is Sam discovers he is, in fact, the killer (no question) all of 20 minutes in and it’s more of a question as to why. The reason why is decent and allows for some good twists, so I am not saying this is a bad plot line for a movie, I am saying that it worked negatively for me because I sort of felt like I had a bait and switch.
But let’s set that aside, despite not being what I expected that doesn’t mean it was bad. So leaving aside the title and the description and looking at YMBTK for what it actually was, how did I feel? Well… I enjoyed it a lot more the second go around actually.
YMBTK is a great tongue in cheek look at the 80s slasher genre. It has everything, from the counselors arriving at the campsite early, the campground having a dark past, the stereotypical characters you expect from this type of movie (though not overdone), and lots of gore. Then you have the meta aspect with Chuck, Sam’s friend, who is the horror expert attempting to guide Sam and eventually others through what is happening with her knowledge of all things horror movie. Title cards are also thrown in with kill counts and other silly things. All in all, it’s a pretty interesting, goofy, and enjoyable experience.
This, like many other meta-horror films, is meant to be a movie for horror fans. Unlike a lot of other meta horror movies, it does not get overly caught up in being too in your face about what makes it horror and the “rules”… at least not for the most part. Chuck does guide Sam through discovering what exactly happened at the camp, but until the end, she isn’t overtly “this is x and y.” I liked this because meta movies are reaching the point of overdone, so I enjoyed the meta qualities but also appreciated that it took a slightly different approach.
It’s interesting that we are back to discussing horror comedy and interesting that YMBTK has an entirely different take on comedy in horror than our last Impressions (The Babysitter). The movie does have some good one-liners, but more of my laughs came from the movie presenting very expected situations and playing with them slightly. I have to admit though in finishing it I am not sure that it is meant to be horror comedy or just meant to be horror with comedy. This is not a knock, but I didn’t find myself laughing enough to really know if it was a genre blend or not.
The horror is… okay. The truth is this is far from the best horror movie I have seen regarding scares. It doesn’t have a great deal of suspense, but there is some. In truth, though if you were to compare it to many of the 80s slasher trash movies, this one is poking a bit at, it’s worlds ahead. I think a lot of people make the mistake of comparing it to modern horror without realistic expectations. It’s a slasher movie, it’s not going to be a slow climb to a climax, or a constantly on the edge of your seat tense experience. It’s going to be a slasher movie, and it’s a great slasher movie. It is not the best I have seen in terms of scares, but it’s far from the worst.
Bottom line? In truth, I was never able to separate myself from my expectations completely. The name and the description set me up for one thing, and I got an entirely different experience. However, the experience provided is a good one. It’s entertaining, well acted, great gore, and a solid plot. I just really wish I hadn’t felt sort of mislead because now I really want to see the movie I was expecting… maybe even by Brett Simmons. Still if you know going in you aren’t getting a movie about the question of whether or not the main character is the killer, and instead experience it for what it is I think you’ll have a good time. It’s a genre fan movie, and it satisfied me. I would recommend it to genre fans with no hesitation with the disclaimer of don’t go in with certain expectations based on the title. I am also very much looking forward to a potential sequel or anything else Simmons has to offer the horror genre.
On a slightly more personal note, I wanted to add that this movie did an impeccable job of mimicking what we love about slasher trash without actually giving into the harmful tropes. Look, I love horror, but a lot of what is considered the standard is pretty problematic when you look at it. As such it was nice to see a movie manage to strike a balance between “80s slasher flick” without being simply tits and gore. Horror as a genre is moving forward, and this movie is a great example of that. It does lose it a bit when it comes to who is the final girl and her “purity” (I’ve ranted about this before so I won’t now), but for the most part this movie manages to stay pretty far away from the negative stereotypes about women and people of color in horror movies, and I appreciate that.