Kids Get Dead 2: The Kids Get Deader (2014)
**WARNING: INCLUDES MINOR SPOILERS**
With certain horror movies its important to remember that not all of them should be taken seriously as more than likely its what the filmmaker intended for it. The ‘midnight movie’ or exploitation flicks have been around for decades, in place to satisfy gore hungry genre goers late at night in independent cinemas known as grindhouse and alternatively drive-in theatre’s. Nowadays they’ve become an integral part of the horror festival experience, us fans will grab a beverage of choice and sit down with a group of like-minded friends (or fiends!) to watch plenty of blood splatter with added titillation.
Kids Get Dead 2: The Kids Get Deader due to receive its premiere on June 21st at NYC’s Tribeca Cinemas is a modern embodiment of this type of horror piece. From Darkstar Entertainment and Director Michael Hall, KGD2 appears to be a labour of love, made for audiences who relish in the demented world of axe-wielding maniacs and plenty of boobs and blood. As stated, movies of this kind aren’t made to be taken seriously, their crazy, bloody fun and in place to celebrate and to an extent critique and parody a genre fans have identified with for years. Ultimately this is what KGD2 is all about however at the same time there comes a point where even the most dedicated horror fan gets a sense of ‘seen it all before’.
There are two plots intertwined within the film, it continues where the first one allegedly left off, focusing on ‘final girl’ Casey (Leah Rudick) who sets out to locate the enigmatic author Charles Carver (Steve Buja) who created a novel (the cover being incredibly referential to 80’s slashers such as Friday the 13th and My Bloody Valentine) that foreshadowed the brutal murder of her brother. There’s also a typical teenage house party in full swing, complete with the expected horror archetypes, the slut, the jock, the smart girl, the outsider etc. all lined up ready to be sliced and diced by a masked maniac; which again is homage to the 80’s decade mainly responsible for the on-going trend of slasher flicks although their introduction did emerge during the 60’s and 70’s.
In order to capture the essence of us being in a midnight movie is charismatic, horror hostess Peaches McNeil. She breaks the fourth wall to give her own take of what’s going on within the movie and how it represents existing horror conventions, e.g. the status of the final girl and the repetitiveness of the franchise. Her scenes pop up quite frequently, which at the beginning were both entertaining and clever however the more appearances she has the more irrelevant and overexposed she becomes. The intercut scenes where she doesn’t really push the plot along does take away the attention to the pace of the action unfolding on screen however her tongue is firmly in cheek throughout.
The inclusion of the meta-narrative is pretty inventive and slightly strays it away from being just another generic slasher film but at the same time it doesn’t really offer anything that several other similar movies haven’t done before. There’s a homage to the iconic scene in Psycho (1960) which again has been referenced the hell out of for years. I think there has come a point where all that needs to be said about the slasher film has been done to the death even if the film has been intended as a love letter to all the films that have inspired it. It’s a shame as the films opening sequence from the grainy video-tape technique on Darkstar Entertainment’s Logo, to Peaches intro and the first kills really pack a punch!
In terms of production value, KGD2 is of a professional standard. The photography is sharp, the scenes featuring Peaches McNeil are stylish in terms of the fonts and colours used, creating a grindhouse aesthetic. The practical effects are very well executed, there’s attention to detail with the gory moments which adds that extra sense of brutality to them. There’s definitely more of an 80’s/90’s look and tone rather than the grimy alternative present in many films of this nature. The performances are quite enjoyable, the cast appear to revel in their characters, offering up some overblown, teen slasher caricatures. There’s definitely some Dawson Casting at play here with the usual suspension of disbelief that they really are high school kids.
Despite a mixed bag, Kids Get Dead 2: Kids Get Deader knows exactly what its doing and the type of audience its aiming to appeal to. If it influences a new generation of fans then great, but when it comes to the more desensitized viewer there isn’t much there to really challenge in terms of existing tropes; but as a homage it works to some effect. Society has changed, gender roles have changed within the genre and there’s far more interesting angles to explore rather than creating the same type of film over and over again.
Check out the website for info regarding the premiere, promotional material plus merchandise and much, much more:
Hayley Alice Roberts