Totally Killer: Directed by the talented Nahnatchka Khan, known for works like “Always Be My Maybe” and “Fresh Off the Boat,” this movie blends the fish-out-of-water comedy genre with time-travel science fiction, delivering a narrative that surprisingly makes sense. While the horror aspect of this film may be its weakest link, “Totally Killer” maintains its entertainment value throughout.
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Much of this credit goes to the captivating presence of Kiernan Shipka. Shipka effortlessly handles the witty dialogue and navigates through challenging tonal shifts. In this film, she evolves from a surly teenager to a grief-stricken daughter and ultimately an intrepid investigator, all with impressive finesse. This dynamic transformation is a testament to her acting prowess.
The story unfolds on Halloween night in 2023, as Jamie Hughes (played by Shipka) prepares to go out with her friends. Her overprotective mother, Pam (Julie Bowen), naturally worries about her daughter’s safety due to a tragic event that happened 35 years earlier, known as the Sweet Sixteen Killings. However, when Jamie accidentally gets transported back to 1987 in a time machine, she believes she has the opportunity to prevent the murders and rewrite history.
One recurring element in “Totally Killer” is Jamie’s struggle to convince others of the impending danger, including the town’s amusingly inept sheriff, played by Randall Park. The culture shock moments Jamie experiences in the ’80s, from casual misogyny to widespread smoking, add depth to the story. The film also features a unique soundtrack, deviating from the typical ’80s movie playlist with songs like Bananarama’s “Venus” and Echo and the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon.”
To prevent the murders, Jamie must integrate herself with the potential victims and the teenage version of her mother, who she discovers was their best friend and a mean-girl ringleader. Olivia Holt excels in her role as young Pam, capturing both the comedic and cruel aspects of her character. With big hair and Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers aplenty, Jamie tries to explain to her peers the horror movie tropes that will lead to their demise if they don’t heed her warnings. Predictably, they remain skeptical.
“Totally Killer” introduces some inspired storytelling choices, including flashbacks to the present day while Jamie is stuck in 1987. It also offers a clear-eyed examination of the insularity of small-town life and the idea that peaking in high school can trap people in the past. The film portrays the characters’ deep familiarity with one another, highlighting the illusion that the ’80s were simpler and superior, a notion that Shipka’s character shatters with her deadpan astonishment.
However, the film’s weakest link remains the slasher elements, which lack finesse in staging, cinematography, and editing. The identity and motive of the murderer pale in comparison to the resourceful final girl who ultimately saves the day. Nonetheless, “Totally Killer” successfully weaves elements of Halloween and “Back to the Future” into a captivating narrative, resulting in an engaging and entertaining film.
conclusion of totally Killer
In conclusion, “Totally Killer” is a unique cinematic blend of Halloween thrills and “Back to the Future” time-travel wonder, skillfully directed by Nahnatchka Khan. Despite some weaknesses in its horror elements, the film’s strong points lie in its witty script, the exceptional performance of Kiernan Shipka, and its sharp exploration of small-town dynamics and the nostalgia of the ’80s. While the slasher scenes may lack finesse, the story ultimately hinges on the resourceful final girl, making for an engaging and entertaining movie experience. “Totally Killer” stands as a cheeky and knowing tribute to two iconic genres, offering a fresh take on familiar themes that will surely leave audiences entertained and amused.
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