Directors: Ronnie Khalil, Monroe Mann, Jorge Valdes-Iga
Cast: Monroe Mann, Crystal Arnette, Ronnie Khalil, Kate Costello, Kayle Blogna, Justin Brown
Plot: Six friends go to a quiet lake house in the area where Stephen King lives in the hope of seeing the famous author. However, a killer is stalking them, replicating grizzly deaths from King’s novels.
The first twenty minutes or so of this movie reminded me of Scary Movie. We get a textbook horror movie parody that makes its main mission to mock every aspect of a horror movie. The characters are so stereotypical that they don’t have personalities, instead they each have their own title screens, highlighting their only three traits. Once we have the set-up, we get riffs on specific horror movies (Scary Movie’s target was the whole of the horror genre; here, only Stephen King books get satirised). We get moments where fear is sacrificed for a good gag. Yes, it is very much like Scary Movie, with one crucial difference: You Can’t Kill Stephen King is actually funny. In fact, it threatens to become the movie that Scary Movie should have been, its jokes clever and witty. There is a sense that the writers and directors understand their subject, whereas Scary Movie simply saw a bunch of horror films and began cracking the obvious jokes. The actors know what they are doing too. Their delivery is natural and hits the mark. We don’t mind them playing the token black guy card because Justin Brown’s comedic timing makes those gags so enjoyable. Sure, sometimes there would be a purposeful deadpan piece of delivery from each of the cast, because that is something that is impossible not to mock in a horror comedy. The important thing is that it wasn’t constant. In Scary Movie, the cast never stopped mimicking the poor acting of horror movies past, but the cast of You Can’t Kill Stephen King kept it to a few good gags and when they needed to act to get the story across, they really did. Sometimes a few audience members might miss a laugh or two; as someone who isn’t King’s biggest fan, I began wishing that the movie would focus on the more obvious and mainstream King movies. However, the comedy is on the whole so precise that it is impossible not to enjoy the film.
Then something happens. When the first murder rocks up and the characters stop becoming the easily-parodied party animals, the comedy almost totally comes to a grinding halt. The story evolves into a tense whodunit and begins to become a horror in its own right. Important characters are killed off when you least expect it. The stereotypes break into something more three-dimensional and interesting. The dumb hot girl stock figure threatens to break down and acts just how you would imagine she would, rather than doing the usual horror movie thing and having her continue to be the hot girl parody she was in the first act. It makes it much more interesting than you imagine it would have been. The mystery is quite a fun one to explore; the twist identity, while not the ending I would have gone with, is oh so very Stephen King. While it isn’t quite scary, it does make a much better entry into its genre that pretty much any of its competitors. I think the problem is that abandoning the horror parody trope pretty much stops it from becoming as original as you want it to be. It is a solid horror, yes, but it hypes itself up to be much more. We want a total subversion of the horror genre and it doesn’t really do that. The parody start almost acts a quick set-up for the actual story they want to tell. As I said, that is a very good horror story and I still enjoyed this very much, yet it wasn’t quite the film I wanted it to be.
Final Verdict: A strong horror thriller, yet seeing as it is constantly a few steps away from being something totally original, it leaves you craving that little bit more.