The opening title sequence of Massacre Academy reeks of trying too damn hard. Writer-director Mark Cantu begins his horror-comedy with a series of news interviews and segments detailing the horrific killing of several people on a college campus. The whole affair has a whiff of farce, with its oddball interviewees and awkward anchor segues. Without proper knowledge of the tone or atmosphere the filmmaker is aiming for, none of this is all that amusing or interesting. But fear not, horror heads, as once the story proper begins, the movie proves to be a rather enjoyable ride.
It’s 1987, Kris McNeil (Jess Uhler) is trying to cope after surviving the massacre of Henry Lee Palmer (Dave Sheridan). She goes to therapy after classes, but everywhere she looks, Kris is reminded of the tragedy. It doesn’t help matters that her sister, Maggie (Sierra Mitchell), is ready to move on from the killings two years prior, with her good friend Becca (Christina Krakowski), by her side.
“…the copycat killer Carnie begins killing college students…”
However, before everything gets too comfortable, the copycat killer Carnie begins killing college students indiscriminately. Now, Lieutenant John Hallenbeck (Rick Dutrow), who took charge of the Palmer murder spree, once again is at the helm of horrific events all surrounding the McNeils. Is this a personal vendetta against them? Or is this copycat just picking off whoever they find close by? But most importantly, why are they killing everyone?
Cantu, who was also the editor and director of photography, is (arguably) best known for the sci-fi thriller Night Zero, which boasts a sleek look given its meager resources. With Massacre Academy, the filmmaker ably recreates the 1980s aesthetic of strong, vibrant colors while still balancing the horror and comedy. This is not an easy feat to pull off, but thanks to a clear vision, he is able to do so in a way that lets the audience in on the fun as well.
"…ably recreates the 1980s aesthetic..."