Horror comedy is an increasingly difficult sub-genre to pull off. Go too meta and you risk alienating newcomers, not self-referential enough and horror fans will get bored. Nonetheless, it’s becoming more and more frequent nowadays, too, thanks to the popularity of films like Tucker And Dale Vs Evil and TV shows such as Todd And The Book Of Pure Evil. In its press notes, OMG…We’re In A Horror Movie compares itself to both Tucker And Dale and the grandaddy of ’em all, Scream, which is a big statement to make, for any movie, let alone a no-budget indie with slang perpetuated by 15-year-olds in its title.
Those two are universally well-liked by horror fans, and even if you, as a fledgling filmmaker with a dream, have somehow managed to capture that magical formula with a few of your buddies and an empty apartment, it’s unlikely the flick will quite reach those heights.
The good news is that OMG…We’re In A Horror Movie is a lot more fun, and a great deal smarter, than that rubbish title, or any delusions of grandeur, suggests. Marking cinematographer Ajala Bandele’s feature directorial debut (he also writes, produces, edits and stars!) the flick is a proudly low-budget, defiantly indie exercise in madness that mostly works.
The premise sees a group of six friends (with an easy, believable dynamic) enjoying their weekly game night when an ungodly voice from above interrupts to tell them they’re in a horror movie called The Creeper. What follows is a race against the running time for survival, during which all clichés must be confronted and, where applicable, utilized.
However, this also means the characters figure out what’s going on pretty quickly, so the plot takes off at a clip and rarely lets up over the following 100-odd minutes (a bit long for a horror-comedy, to be fair). And the fact it’s a slasher-zombie-horror-comedy hybrid helps matters, too.
There’s a bunch of horror trivia on display, naturally, and props must be given for the unlikely references to Deep Blue Sea, Queen Of The Damned and, er, Zealander. Ajala Bandele is a horror fanatic, and his intense love for, and knowledge of, the genre bleeds into his clever, knowing, and very funny script.
The performances are strong across the board, with the dynamic between a scheming ex-girlfriend (Liz Fenning) and her paramour (Brendan McGowan) particularly enjoyable. Bandele himself is a standout as goofy wannabe actor AJ, his rapport with buddy Chris (Chris Hampton) so natural and realistic, it’s impossible not to imagine their friendship continuing outside the boundaries of the movie.
Perhaps the most surprising element to Bandele’s film, considering how stupid it is on the surface, is how much it has to say about racial politics, particularly in horror. Much of AJ and Chris’s dialogue has to do with the shoddy treatment of black characters and, aside from the fact they’re absolutely spot on, it really makes you think about whether or not this is a trend that is likely to change in the future.
Naturally, it’s a conversation already worth having, but Bandele’s politics are even more relevant in the current landscape, given the Black Lives Matter movement et al. And, without giving too much away, his decision to subvert our expectations in relation to black characters in horror movies is particularly impressive–hell, even the fact there are three African-American characters in this film is a subversion in itself.
At its core, OMG…We’re In A Horror Movie feels like something you and your buddies might make over an otherwise boring weekend. It’s likely a little too self-referential for some people, but its neither cynical nor self-indulgent enough to really hate, and its heart is definitely in the right place.
The comedy elements work better than the horror, but the make-up effects are great, the blood thick and red and the kills rough. The flick has a fun, charming kind of underdog spirit that is impossible to resist. It is schlocky as opposed to just plain shitty, and wears how rough it is around the edges proudly. Even with that title, there’s little to be offended by here.
Goofy, dumb as hell and not in the least bit scary, OMG…We’re In A Horror Movie is probably best described as a feature-length version of that one commercial with the teens hiding behind the wall of chainsaws, and refusing to go for the running car. If that sounds like fun to you (and why shouldn’t it?), you can check it out on VOD now.
WICKED RATING: 4/10
Director(s): Ajala Bandele
Writer(s): Ajala Bandele, Tom Hatfield
Stars: Ajala Bandele, Chris Hampton, Liz Fenning, Nils Jansson, Shanna Malcom, Brendan McGowan
Studio/ Production Co: Leomark Studios
Length: 107 minutes
Sub-Genre: Slasher, horror-comedy, zombie movie