KILLER WEEKEND (2018)
Review by Darren Gaskell
When Sam (Sean Verey) accompanies a group of his friends on a zombie survival game ahead of his forthcoming wedding he’s expecting a weekend of booze and banter. What he doesn’t expect is bloodshed as one of the organisers winds up dead – and we’re talking dead, not pretend undead. Their subsequent decisions only lead to further carnage and soon the stag party is faced with a fight for survival.
Horror comedies are notoriously tricky to pull off and although Killer Weekend has an enthusiastic stab (literally, at some points) at blending the right mix of chuckles and chills the result is not especially engaging. It won’t surprise you to know that the familiar characters are all there – the one who can’t grow up, the one who has grown up and can’t stop talking about his kid, the staid father-in-law whom the groom is trying desperately to impress – and this should provide enough solid if predictable comedy mileage. Well…
The thing is, Eric (Danny Kirrane) – the guy who hasn’t grown up – is a dick. And not in an amusing way. It’s not Kirrane’s fault in the slightest; he has absolutely no chance with the dialogue he’s been given. The poor guy doesn’t even get thrown the odd witty comeback for the viewer to think “Ah, he’s playing dumb but underneath it all, he’s really smart”. No, he’s just bloody annoying and the more uncharitable of you out there might be hoping he’s the first to go.
Spoiler: He isn’t.
There’s also the “friend with money” Myles (Timothy Renouf) who looks to solve things by throwing cash around, and then there’s the laid-back Cheese (Perry Fitzpatrick), who’s called Cheese because…no, I’ve put one spoiler out there. If you’re going to watch this then I don’t want to blow one of the jokes whether it’s funny or not.
It’s not that Killer Weekend is all bad. It’s fitfully amusing and the kills are both darkly comic and suitably gory on occasion. It’s just that I spent most of the 85 minutes willing it to properly take flight. I wanted to be laughing my arse off one moment and being grossed out by bloodthirsty action the next. In reality, I spent most of the running time thinking the film was just about okay.
The script doesn’t take any comedic or dramatic risks and this wouldn’t be so bad if the jokes were coming at you apace but there’s no real urgency to the first half. The story is a little too mannered and the fact that the writers are too attached to the main protagonists comes across so strongly that you never feel they’re in that much danger. Even when things are looking grim for someone, you’re expecting one of their mates to show up and save them.
In a cast of characters I was struggling to remember half an hour after I finished watching this, there is one definite bright spot and in the case of Killer Weekend it’s the performance of Mark Heap. As Gerald, a man with a shady military past, he’s initially keeping his cards close to his chest as we wonder just what is bubbling under the surface and could be unleashed as a result of being trapped in a life-threatening situation.
Oh boy, is it unleashed. Maybe it doesn’t take a huge leap of deductive reasoning to track his character arc but the ultimate reveal is the one point which hits the brilliantly silly heights I was hoping for elsewhere. It isn’t even something original. You’ll more than likely have seen something similar in one or more films or television shows. That doesn’t matter when it’s carried off with the ludicrous panache it is here. It’s a shame that it took well into the final act for me to burst out laughing and unfortunately it isn’t enough to make up for the thudding averageness of what’s gone before.
Killer Weekend’s promising – if not startingly original – premise could have made for a fun watch but there’s very little to lift it above the slew of streaming and direct-to-disc material out there. The performances are competent but at the same time it’s odd that the story isn’t always played for the OTT laughs it possibly should have been. Those early, accidental deaths have a Tucker And Dale Vs Evil feel to them without ever coming close to capturing the hilariously escalating madness of that film.
And therein may lie Killer Weekend’s biggest problem. It doesn’t go far enough. The comedy only really comes to the fore when it’s used to undercut the gore sequences and it all seems oddly concerned with skirting any material than could be in genuinely bad taste.
Bad Taste. That’s another great comedy/horror. I just wish I could be comparing Killer Weekend favourably with Peter Jackson’s debut. Instead, I was frustrated with how flat and disappointing most of it turned out to be.
Rating: 2 / 5