Saturday Morning Massacre offers up a simple “what if” as its basic premise: What if the characters from Scooby-Doo were real people, dealing with potentially real paranormal activity? From there, the film lovingly recreates some classic Scooby-Doo-esque moments with its realistic characters while delivering a quality fright-fest with more than a pinch of brutality.
Nancy (Ashley Rae Spillers), Chad (Adam Tate), Gwen (Josephine Decker), Floyd (Jonny Mars) and his dog Hamlet (Velma, Fred, Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby, respectively) are paranormal investigators who have long since stopped searching for the paranormal and instead set about debunking the places they investigate. Hard up for cash, and without any real evidence of spooks, the crew take on yet another haunted house gig, potentially their last.
With their van full of ghosthunting gear, they set off for the old Kyser property, a church-turned-school-turned-mansion with a storied, and disturbing, history of missing children, death and cult activity (as the group is informed by the local sheriff (Paul Gordon) as he gives them an exhaustive tour of the building, imploring them to stay at a motel rather than sleep there overnight). The crew persist in their duties, however, and set about investigating to find that there’s definitely something spooky going on, and it’s nothing they’ve ever experienced before.
The film is full of clever choices and stylistic homages to Scooby-Doo, such as a sequence near the end with everyone chasing through the house, popping in and out of different doorways and hallways that is a skillfully shot and edited, far more realistic version of the same sequence you’d see in the cartoon. That said, while Saturday Morning Massacre has fun with the basic Scooby-Doo idea, it also makes it a point to approach the film not as some spoof novelty, but as a real horror flick. And without giving anything away, when things start getting downright bloody and disgusting, whatever lighthearted vibe the film had about itself in the early moments are gone completely.
I’ll admit to being a bit disappointed by the film’s resolution but, at the same time, I had so much fun getting there that I’m fine with it. The entire cast does a great job throughout, but I did have an affinity for Paul Gordon’s sheriff, because he’s got that aloof, dry cadence to how he speaks that becomes that much better when he’s giving you the lowdown on a haunted house’s history. It’s like, he doesn’t really believe it, right? No? Then why does he suggest they stay elsewhere?
All in all, Saturday Morning Massacre is a fun horror flick. If you’re looking for some clever parallels and nods to Scooby-Doo, this film’s got them, but it also has more than enough frights, blood and other horror joy that someone looking for a scary cinematic experience will be able to appreciate. And I’m not kidding about the brutality, friends. This flick oozes blood by the time it ends.