Rating: 4 out of 5.

Vicious Fun is a visceral bloodbath that never stops being a complete blast. Set in 1983 Minnesota, deputy assistant of a horror magazine (or, as he likes to call it, a ‘horror journalist’), Joel (Evan Marsh in a great, cringe-comedy and nerdy-hero role) follows a weird guy his ex is dating, Bob (Ari Milleen, channeling American Psycho), off to a bumping, crazy party. Joel gets wasted (“let’s get blitzed!”), disguises himself as ‘Dave’, pretends he is meeting Bob for the first time, makes a fool of himself, and passes out in a supply closet. When he wakes up, Joel stumbles upon a self-help group in the building only to realize it’s strictly for serial killers. 

There’s “part time cannibal, full time nut job” Hideo (Sean Baek); Fritz (genre vet Julian Richings, who has popped up in everything from Wrong Turn to Urban Legend to Cube) the scientist,  who’s basically “a lizard in a skin suit” that also loves to dress as a clown on the side; Zachary (Final Destination 5’s David Koechner), who killed an entire Cambodian village and “likes it messy sometimes”; and Carrie (Amber Goldfarb), an experienced hitwoman who has “killed 7 people this year, and I’m fucking stoked about it!” At first, they all buy the story Joel makes up on the spot: Joel poses as a taxi-driver murderer named Phil, who identifies as “a steel crocodile on wheels.” Taxi drivers are the perfect cover, he says, because you never remember your taxi drivers.

Joel is about to sneak out and head off on his merry way, but then Bob makes his entrance, also a part of the group, and boy does he remember Joel from earlier in the night. Putting him on the spot, Bob immediately knows that Joel is lying. Turns out, Bob is a psychotic sociopath who kills his victims between the 1st and 3rd dates. With the whole group of killers now turned against him, Joel must team up with Carrie to outsmart these freaks at their own twisted game.

With a script from director Cody Calahan and James Villeneuve, Vicious Fun never forgets either of the words in its title. The dark comedy bleeds through in every scene, with twisted meta dialogue and movie references feeling organic to the narrative. The killers themselves are varied enough that each of them is brimming with personality and individuality. Even ones you think you would know fluently, like Fritz the scientist, carries his own brand of strangeness: he kills people over and over again, putting them on life support, making the final kill for him an orgasmic release.

Though it starts off a little slow after the exciting opening, it does not take long for Vicious Fun to hit the gas. Super gory kills with practical effects, 80s stylization, an uber-violent and eye-popping hospital horror finale, and enthusiastic performances from the entire ensemble cast make Vicious Fun a comedy/horror movie worth its weight in “warm, fresh kidneys.” 

Vicious Fun slashes its way to Shudder on Tuesday, June 29th.

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