Jason Howard



Review by Jason Howard

Lead Entertainment Writer

Yet another fake holiday created by the good folks at the Hallmark Company…

Stop me if you’ve heard this one – a group of horny teenagers (played by twenty-somethings) pile into a car and head off for a vacation.  Once they get there, there is a killer on the loose, stalking them one by one.  It’s an age-old formula (one of my favorites, in fact) that can still be quite entertaining when it works or dares to bring something new to the table.  Does this one fit the bill?

Good girl Cammi is convinced by her not-so-good friends to accompany them on a spring break road trip, despite the fact that she is still recovering from a recent past tragedy.  Unknowingly, they are being followed on their journey by a vicious killer, who makes all the same stops that they do, leaving a trail of blood and guts in his wake.  They finally end up in an abandoned amusement park with a mysterious past of its own.

Killer Holiday
Directed by
Marty Thomas
Michael Copon, Rachel Lara, Julia Beth Stern
Release Date
5 November 2013
Jason’s Grade: C

Unfortunately, despite being a bit of fun that doesn’t take itself too seriously, there really isn’t a whole lot to set this apart from others of its ilk.  We get stock slasher movie villains (innocent girl, bitch, jock, jokester, dork with a camera) and the usual tropes, including a cameo by the film’s director as the attendant at a run down gas station and the requisite false jump scares.  What does separate it from the pack are an above-average killer and an incredibly creepy final location that works perfectly with the tone of the film.

After an effective cold open and a fun title sequence (complete with an appropriate logo design that reoccurs a few times through the film), we immediately hit the road with the aforementioned stereotypes.   One interesting approach taken was in the trip itself –  by watching the killer follow our protagonists along the way, it sprinkles the tension throughout, rather than saving it all up for the finale, which works out well as the majority of the characters are rather unlikable (c’mon “dork with the camera” – we’re ALWAYS supposed to like you) and what little development they are given is unable to carry the movie for any particular length of time.   Fortunately, it doesn’t take too long to get to our destination (with, perhaps, one too many ‘local yokels’ along the way).

The acting is above average for a modern-day slasher – Julia Beth Stern as our final girl and Michael Copon as the killer (don’t worry – that’s not a spoiler once your reach the 15 second mark in the film) fare the best, with the others more than able to hold their own.  There are some inconsistencies amongst character traits, but that seems to be a result of script convenience rather than performance choices.

The cinematography and editing all deliver quite well on a budget this limited, but I feel that I must point out one particularly annoying motif that popped up too often (but, admittedly did slow down as the movie progressed).  The decision to interrupt shots with slo-mo black and white versions of the same shots or flashback glimpses (think Natural Born Killers) was distracting and didn’t add anything.  It seemed to be done just for style’s sake (perhaps a result of the director’s music video past) and to constantly remind us that there is more than meets the eye to what we’re watching.  The music, however, evoked the setting well with a mixture of new and a touch of pastiche to slashers past.

For stalk ‘n’ slash enthusiasts, you’ll be rewarded with some (but maybe not enough) creative kills that make good use of the fairground set and a few final act twists and turns.  Gore effects are handled well by the design team, but not necessarily as well by the actors (I hope that I react that well if I were to one day ever lose an arm via axe).  Despite a late film sex scene, fans of the typical T&A found in most slashers will have to look elsewhere.  Lastly, while we know the identity of the killer almost immediately, it’s the motivations that provide the mystery.  The script makes them interesting and keeps us guessing, but the reveals are handled rather clumsily (please don’t kill me until I hear the origins of your nickname).

Jason’s Final Thoughts:

Anytime a modern slasher flick comes along that doesn’t fall into the trappings of the current PG-13 trend, I want to be in its corner.  Unfortunately, in this case, Killer Holiday falls squarely in the middle of the pack.  It’s good enough for a one time watch, but I find it hard to believe that you would revisit it much when there are much better examples of the subgenre right next to it on the shelf.  The most interesting portion of the film certainly lies in the final 15 minutes, but many viewers may not find the journey getting there to be worth it.  Most importantly, however, is that it is good enough to warrant keeping an eye on all involved in the future and see their inevitable progression.

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