With a title like Ghost Killers vs Bloody Mary, it’s safe to assume we’re in for some bloody, silly carnage. And yet, this nifty little Brazilian export (original title: Exterminadores do Além Contra a Loira do Banheiro) is so much more than that goofy title suggests, though it does, also, live up to its promise in a big way. Simply put, this is one of those fun, frightening, and endlessly quotable horror comedies that you want to watch again immediately after watching it. If it doesn’t enter your rotation soon, you’re doing it wrong.
The Ghost Killers of the title are a trio (well, foursome, but the dude who does all the technical work isn’t really a part of the gang, much to his chagrin) of paranormal investigators with a dwindling YouTube following who conduct the kind of dumb on-camera examinations of the supernatural that are clearly bogus and yet still inherently binge-worthy. Their name is a rip-off of Ghostbusters, with a hilariously similar icon to match (the difference between ghouls and ghosts is intimately excavated).
The film opens in a typical Brazilian high school where everybody is impossibly tanned and wearing Vans so, immediately, we all wish to attend. It’s daylight, the middle of the school day, and some poor, unfortunate child is in the toilets, summoning Bloody Mary in the mirror. To his shock, it actually works, the mirror starts bleeding (ah, that old chestnut) and the lady herself appears and devours him. That first glimpse of Bloody Mary establishes how cool and modern she looks, with nary a bonnet in sight and it’s also a baller move to show her in daylight, even a little bit.
We then cut to the aforementioned Ghost Killers who are working out of the back of a butcher’s, giving out about how LPers are getting way more views than them. Their videos are deliberately obnoxious, aping all the best/worst paranormal shows, but crucially, they’re all faked with their poor tech guy usually gussied up as a ghostly apparition to scare participants or, presumably, give them closure. As a result, when the principal of the aforementioned high school tasks them with stopping Bloody Mary, they’re in way over their heads (and initially want to be paid way too much for the privilege).
Most of Ghost Killers vs Bloody Mary‘s action is relegated to the school, which gives the filmmakers scope to squeeze both jokes and scares out of the incompetent ghost hunters, and regular staff, running about the place screaming their heads off. One horrifying sequence is prefaced with “Before you watch…smash that like button!” and, even though Bloody Mary is freed almost immediately, this lot are so used to faking it they don’t understand the real threat she poses until it’s too late.
Ghost Killers vs Bloody Mary is proper, laugh-out-loud funny. The joke hit rate is so good, it’s borderline annoying because missing jokes is unavoidable. The scares are subtle rather than outright shocking, which works with the tone, and there’s a ton of great gore and SFX. Likewise, she truly is Bloody Mary as the place is drowning in the red stuff. Nothing is overplayed, including a very funny bit with the tech guy dressed up as Bloody Mary and popping up to unintentionally scare everyone.
Likewise, although there are plenty of pop culture references, they aren’t overdone as to become tiresome. The film’s own mythology is well-established too, whether it’s how to conjure Bloody Mary herself (knock three times, flush the toilet three times, and say her name three times), the fact she’s a little girl with a potentially sad backstory, or even what drew the Ghost Killers to this line of work in the first place. Relationships are clear and teased out over the course of the movie, rather than cynically used as plot devices (there are no underlying romantic tensions, for instance).
The performances are strong and committed across the board, with an older female teacher happily given plenty to do (as well as her own, truly disgusting, love scene). Everybody has their own particular part to play in the ensuing chaos, whether it’s the fame-hungry pretty boy, the too-eager techie nerd, or the no-nonsense token chick. With so much going on, it’s impressive how clear and cohesive Ghost Killers vs Bloody Mary keeps its story. Not a moment is wasted; it’s packed with great stuff.
See Also: Haunt [Frightfest 2019 Review]
This might be a difficult one to find (it played Cinepocalypse back in June, but there’s no US release date as of yet), but it’s well worth tracking down. Fast, fun, funny, and often frightening, with a cast of colorful characters whose survival you’re genuinely rooting for, Ghost Killers vs Bloody Mary more than lives up to its wild title. And if that doesn’t sell you on it, well, there’s a little poop monster that crawls out of the toilet and causes havoc at one stage too. Try to resist that.
WICKED RATING: 8/10
Director(s): Fabrício Bittar
Writer(s): Fabrício Bittar, Andre Catarinacho, Danilo Gentili
Stars: Dani Calabresa, Léo Lins, Danilo Gentili, Murilo Couto, Pietra Quintela
Release date: TBC
Studio/Production Company: Clube Filmes
Run Time: 103 minutes