GHOST KILLERS VS BLOODY MARY **** Brazil 2018 Dir: Fabricio Bittar. 108 mins
A movie seemingly designed to play at midnight at horror festivals around the world, this go-for-broke horror comedy wears its influences on its sleeve, from the high energy montages of SHAUN OF THE DEAD to its EVIL DEAD-style geysers of gore. It’s also huge fun, its engaging characters sustaining an admittedly over-generous running time (if you count the obligatory end-credits Easter eggs, it has around five endings too many) alongside an inventive series of gross-out gags. The protagonists are the losers behind “Ghoulbusters”, a juvenile sub-“Most Haunted” troupe with an awful logo, a rubbish catchphrase (“Eat this Jackass!”) and a format that’s gone stale. With their mad-butcher uncle threatening castration for late rent payments, they take the job of “exorcising” the Isaac Newton High School, where students live in fear of a Bloody Mary-style curse (call her name and flush three times and she appears in the bathroom mirror). Initially planning their usual fakery, they are inevitably confronted with real pyrotechnics and possessions.
This slickly made, spirited Brazilian splatter farce has fun mocking and expanding upon the hackneyed Bloody Mary premise, notably in a sequence in which a Ghoulbuster brags that he’s fucked Bloody Mary (“She’s a 10 year old girl!” a bystander reminds him). Wittily played secondary characters include a size-15 (not just his shoes…) black security guard named Conan and a sexually frustrated teacher using the now stand “if this were a horror movie…” idle banter to coerce a younger, prettier teacher to shag him. The dialogue invokes a range of pop culture references – notably STRANGER THINGS and FACES OF DEATH – while indulging an unusual fondness for HIV-based one-liners. If a lot of the humour is in the “naughty schoolboy” category, at least its executed with finesse: a memorable, demonic Mr. Hankey and a bitey, wanking foetus in a science lab result in two of the most hilarious set pieces in recent horror. The cast have goofy charm, and it maintains an energetic pace all the way up to a suitably splashy, eye-popping finale.
Review by Steven West