Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Valentine’s Day slashers are in short supply—beyond My Bloody Valentine or 2001’s Valentine, there is not much else out there. While Pretty Boy may not be some masterpiece of modern cinema, it maintains a fun, ridiculous tone that permeates from every facet of the production. I was not aware that Pretty Boy was a sequel, until I was prepping to watch it for FrightFest. When I discovered that 2019’s Blind was streaming on Tubi, I knew I had to check it out in order to make this a true double feature. While both movies are cheesy fun, Pretty Boy is much more pure slasher style. The killer’s physique and methods of dispatch evoke famous horror icons Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers, with flashier kills and practical effects to accompany them.

For the uninitiated, worry not—a recap of Blind, along with audio clips from its various characters, play over the opening credits. While Blind opted for a clever, but simple, opening where every crew name pops up in Braille, Pretty Boy begins with a vibrant best-of reel before it picks up directly after Blind’s explosive cliffhanger ending. Taking a page from 1981’s Halloween II, the unmasked killer Pretty Boy has been masked once more. He is on the road, fleeing the confined Hollywood Hills home setting, with famous blind actress Faye (Sarah French) in tow (and entirely unconscious for the first chunk of the film).

This time around, we follow several friends at an 80’s-themed “no couples allowed” Valentine’s Day party. Most of those in attendance are vapid Hollywood caricatures. Brad (Andrew Rohrbach) is convinced that charades is not a real game ever played by real people. Preston (Jake Red) is the party’s host, a privileged gay whose dad is a real estate agent. Rayna (Heather Grace Hancock) is final girl material, a clever chick with big aspirations for success. Others at the party include a deaf woman and her love interest, as well as a ditzy girl who says she doesn’t want to cheat on her boyfriend despite literally having sex that second. The relationships are all established between the characters before Pretty Boy and Faye show up on the scene, making the kills engaging and often laugh-out-loud funny.

Once Faye comes to, which happens around the half-hour point, Pretty Boy kicks into full sequel mode. It delivers more bang for your buck than Blind, and I think people will really enjoy this installment. As a second part to the first movie, it is well done, and feels like an organic evolution of both Faye and Pretty Boy’s characters. It helps that the humor is so contagious. One of my favorites was a hilarious scene where Preston licks Brad, who is handcuffed to the bed. Brad brags that “I am so gonna pound you with my massive slab of manhood”—right up until he realizes that Preston is the one in the room. Another great one-liner comes when Preston is being questioned about the massive pug painting hanging in a room, with Rayna wondering where his dog went. “I’m not gonna be upstaged by some bitch,” he responds like a true attention whore. Visual gags are present too, particularly in a clever double kill and a shocking display of a knife-swallowing talent.

The first half of Pretty Boy is a fun throwback slasher, with the second half slightly less successful as it dips its toes into Texas Chain Saw Massacre territory. Still, the much larger body count, wry humor in the scripting, and varied twists and turns are a joy to watch unfold. If the ending is any indication, Blind and Pretty Boy are just the first two entries in a possible slasher trilogy from writer Joe Knetter and director Marcel Walz. After Pretty Boy, I am down for whatever sick and twisted psycho-sexual thrills they churn up next.

Pretty Boy screened at 2021’s Arrow Video FrightFest.

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