Start the fire
“Come home to terror.”
Director: Brian C. Weed / Writer: Jake Helgren / Cast: Lexi Giovagnoli, Rae Latt, Randi Lamey, Alex Dobrenko, Taryn Cervavich, Branden Lee Roth, Elizabeth Bigger, Shaleen Cholera, Steve Earnest, Jim Tavare, Grainne McDermott, Jesse Ferraro.
Body Count: 10
Laughter Lines: “What, do you think this was all for nothing – that I’m just some psychopath lunatic!?”
It was with a considered amount of anxiety I sat down to watch Bloody Homecoming the other day. As I’ve known writer Jake Helgren for some ten years or more, I was dreading that horrible possibility I’d not enjoy it. Thus, you might ask yourself (if you do indeed use terms such as ‘thus’, ‘hitherto’ and the like), will this review by biased? Well, maybe a little.
But thank MY lucky stars I enjoyed it. If you don’t, well that’s fine, I’m alright, Jack!
Anyway, in what that wretched Prom Night remake should’ve been like, Bloody Homecoming is a genuine love letter to those contrived plottages of the early 80s, you know, the ones where everything works out perfectly for the killer. Here, a particularly unpleasant high schooler attempts to date rape a girl and is locked in a room by she and her friends. Said idiot then knocks over a candle and goes up in flames.
Three years later, the first homecoming dance since the accident is held and you just KNOW that it’s not going to go unmarked. The now-senior teens involved in the incident each receive a bizarre ‘Happy Homecoming’ note in their lockers and, throughout the course of the day, are stalked and slain by a loon dressed up as a fireman and wielding a sharpened spirit stick, which he uses to impale those deemed responsible for the burning.
In a nice turn, the almost-rape-victim isn’t made the final girl (and is, instead, the first to go); the reigns are handed over to her pluckier friend, Loren, who is a little paranoid about the notes and the disappearances of her friends as the dance nears.
Teenagers are soon being asphyxiated, slashed, and crushed to death by retracting bleachers (been waiting for someone to do that for yeeeears!) until Loren is forced to face up to a sin she didn’t know she’d committed. Admittedly, I hadn’t guessed the killer this time, which is always a plus point in a mystery slasher film, and I wasn’t let down by the unmasking. Could it be the angry father of the burned-up teen? The leering high school Principal? How about the burn victim himself, is he REALLY dead?
As no low budget horror film is perfect, Bloody Homecoming is also not without its flaws, most of which are inextricably welded to the cut-price nature of the production, but the acting also ranges from clunky to drama club in some quarters, often more obvious when one actor in a scene is fine and the other is plainly unable to capture the moment. But, and this is where the bias could be factoring in, when was anyone ever really THAT concerned about Oscar-level performances in teen body count films anyway? It’s a mildly diverting complaint at best.
Some expanded chase scenes ratchet up the tension nicely and call to mind the fleeing damsels from the original Prom Night and Sarah Michelle Gellar’s frantic escape attempts in I Know What You Did Last Summer; there’s also an echo of a great scene from My Super Psycho Sweet 16. Elsewhere, keep your eyes peeled for the corpse that blinks.
Blurbs-of-interest: Jake Helgren directed Severed Lives and Varsity Blood. the latter featuring actors Lexi Giovcannotspellitcorrectly and Jesse Ferrara.