[Review] ‘Slumber Party Massacre’ remake is both fun and enlightened

Although ‘remake’ still feels like a dirty word after all these years of moviemaking, there is no denying the merits of updating a well-worn story. The horror genre endured the most remakes in the 2000s; slashers circa ’80s were popular candidates for modernizations. The trend, however, eventually cooled not necessarily because of pushback or a lack of success at the box office. Rather, the climate of horror had begun to change once again, and that brief yet distinct era of excessive torture and bloodshed had come to a crawl.

“Energetic and inventive”

Reimaginings of ‘slashics’ like Black Christmas and My Blood Valentine certainly deliver the gory goods; they are rich in arterial spray and fatal wounds of all kind. This type of movie speeds through the characters’ instant gratifications — villains manifesting dark desires, whereas their victims succumb to their own primal instincts when looking to survive — but today’s audience is more open to meatier stories in their horror. Slashers have made the change as well, and one glaring example is Danishka Esterhazy‘s energetic and inventive take on the original Slumber Party Massacre.

This brand-new Slumber Party Massacre sounds like a retread of the 1982 movie, seeing as it also centers on a group of young women fighting a killer who wields an oversized power drill. The shared and basic elements aside, Esterhazy’s movie is a whole new beast that brings a familiar story up to date for today’s viewers. Amy Holden Jones and Rita Mae Brown‘s Slumber Party Massacre is revered among slasher fans old and new; it remains a clever movie loaded with feminist imagery and messages. The remake retains all of that and then some.

Esterhazy and Suzanne Keilly‘s reworking blends aspects of the original as well as its first sequel, Slumber Party Massacre II. Ardent fans will instantly pick up on the nods. They should also feel assured knowing this new version still honors all the movies that came before it. Nothing that happens in the remake is too leftfield or uncalled for either. The story instead revises what all made the ’80s entries so great. There is a discernible amount of affection for the source material.

With remakes like Slumber Party Massacre, there is bound to be objections toward any injected social commentary or politicizing. This update is sometimes awkward when characters are self-aware and too on the nose. There is a fair deal of stating the obvious here, but considering how some viewers have completely missed the feminism inherent to the original movie, maybe being direct is not the worst road to take.

The new Slumber Party Massacre is a good time

The new Slumber Party Massacre is a good time regardless of anyone’s preconceived notions about remakes or social criticism in horror. The humor is spot on, and the level of violence is gratifying despite this being slated for basic cable. There is a handful of surprises to be found here that keeps the audience on their toes. All in all, this is not a by-the-numbers remake. It takes a remarkable and astute movie from nearly four decades ago and refits its story for all generations of slasher fans.

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