Totally Killer (2023)

Totally Killer It is the end of October in 1987, and it’s Halloween time! For some teenage girls in the small town of Vernon, things have gotten way too scary, however…Tiffany Clark, Marisa Song and Heather Hernandez are all killed by someone going by the nickname Sweet 16 Killer, each having been stabbed 16 times on the night of their 16th birthday. And they all had their birthdays in the days close to Halloween, of course: on October 27, 29 and 31. Many years later, to present day, the murders are still unsolved as the killer was never caught. Jamie Hughes is the daughter of a woman named Pam, who used to be friends with the three victims of the Sweet 16 Killer. Naturally, Pam is having a rather strained relationship to Halloween, and feels anxious when Jamie goes to a concert with her friend on Halloween night. While being at home giving out candy to the trick or treaters, Pam is suddenly attacked by the killer who seems to have come back for her all these years later, and she’s stabbed to death. While Jamie grieves over her mother’s death, she also helps her friend Amelia finish the final parts of her time machine (yes, an actual time machine), which Jamie later activates and is sent back to 1987. Realizing that she can now stop the Sweet 16 Killer from actually going on the killing spree, she tries to warn people (which goes as well as one might expect) and befriend her mother and her group of friends, hoping to stop the killer and save her mother from dying in the future. But she’s got to hurry – or else she will be trapped in 1987…


Totally Killer is a comedy slasher film from 2023, directed by Nahnatchka Khan. It premiered at Fantastic Fest on September 28, 2023, and was later released on Amazon Prime on October 6, 2023. I guess the best way to describe it is a movie where Scream meets Back to the Future. In the leading role we have Kiernan Shipka as Jamie(who also played Sabrina in the Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), who plays a typical modern teenage girl. This is something that the movie makes sure to exploit when she gets sent back to 1987, where things are considerably less “politically correct” and Jamie often finds herself baffled by what was apparently deemed okay in the past. While this does sometimes come off as a bit overkill, I can’t help but feeling that this is probably exactly how a teenager of today would have experienced a trip to the latter part of the 80’s: constantly on edge by all the stuff that could potentially be offensive by someone or something. Whew.


Totally Killer is fast paced, generally fun and very much your typical teenage slasher flick. Already from the start it’s very upfront about what it is: a movie that’s supposed to be uncomplicated fun mainly aimed at teens. There is no excessive gore to be witnessed, but the violence is moderate and offers some bloody kills here and there. The killer is walking around wearing a Max Headroom-esque mask, which was made by makeup artist Tony Gardner.


Overall, Totally Killer is an entertaining horror comedy in the same vein as Happy Death Day: it’s nothing spectacular, but offers just the right amount of amusement which will make it a fun experience. There are some obvious plot holes, especially for those who might like to nitpick on things, but they don’t really overshadow the movie as a whole. Just bring forth your Halloween treats and some popcorn, and have fun!


Totally Killer


Director: Nahnatchka Khan
Writers: David Matalon, Sasha Perl-Raver, Jen D’Angelo
Country & year: US, 2023
Actors: Kiernan Shipka, Olivia Holt, Charlie Gillespie, Lochlyn Munro, Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson, Liana Liberato, Kelcey Mawema, Stephi Chin-Salvo, Anna Diaz, Ella Choi, Jeremy Paul



Vanja Ghoul








The Pope’s Exorcist (2023)

The Pope's ExorcistYoga is satanic because it leads to practice of Hinduism and all eastern religions are based on a false belief in reincarnation and practicing yoga is satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter. Ko-ko. –  Father Gabriele Amorth


Father Gabriele Amorth (1925-2016) was an exorcist of the Vatican city who battled against Dr. Satan’s neverending army of fallen angels throughout most of his life, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he also fought nazi demons during WW 2. The one and only reason I’ve heard of this Italian gentleman is because of the documentary The Devil and Father Amorth from 2017, directed by none other than William Friedkin. And woof, what a bag of unholy baloney that documentary is. An utter, demented clown-show which I can only recommend with a good conscience just by how funny-bad it is.


And here we are with a polished  supernatural horror film from Hollywood based on a true story, in the same alley like The Conjuring films, this time focused on the aforementioned pope’s own exorcist Gabriele Amorth, played by a charismatic Russel Crowe. The film starts off on a stormy night during the mid 1980s where we see our Demon Buster in action as he cleanses a possessed boy, tied to his bed.  Amorth brings a pig with him, and pretends to lure the demon to posses it so he then can blow the pig’s brains out with a shotgun and get quickly done with it. Poor piglet.


Then we get introduced to the American widow Julia who have just arrived at the countryside of Spain to inherit an ancient convent from the 1400s from her deceased husband. And with her she has the younger son Henry and the teenage daughter Amy. Henry hasn’t spoken since he got traumatized after seeing his father die in a brutal accident, while Amy just hates her mother’s guts for dragging her ass all over to Spain. Suddenly, without no warning, Henry gets possessed by an angry demon who really wants to have a chat with Father Amorth specifically. Bring me the priest”, he growls with the voice of Ralph Ineson. Since he asks so nicely, our maestro drives all the way to Spain with his Vespa Ferrari to do his holy service and confront this nameless demon. A rabbit hole of conspiracies and other dark secrets about the Vatikan are revealed when Amorth opens a well that leads to a morbid tomb under the convent.


While Russel Crowe carries most of The Pope’s Exorcist on his strong shoulders, the film really suffers from a lazy and rushed script that seems like a first draft. The film doesn’t allow us to get to know this American family or give them much of a personality, and it lacks a good build-up atmosphere of underlying demonic threat as the possession suddenly happens almost like someone just slipped on a banana peel. Shit happens. I’ve given up expecting anything new or groundbreaking from possession films (or haunted house films, for that matter) a long time ago, but at least give us some tension, something to make our armhairs rise. It’s as scary as an episode of Supernatural. On the positive side though, the film is solid and well directed by Julius Avery (Overlord and Samaritan) who does his best to at least gives us tasty visuals and some ghoulish scenery to chew on.


And back to Russel Crowe who is the only reason to give this film at least one watch. To give the film some spice of authenticity, he speaks both Italian and English with an accent as thick as Crowe’s  belly in Unhinged (2020). He’s classy, sympathetic and plays the character with a great sense of humor, as he likes to crack jokes to annoy Satan, sips whiskey after a long roadtrip with his Vespa and… wash his armpits with holy water. Without any spoiling, the film wraps up in a ridiculous climax with cheap CGI effects such as a rubberish stretched-out mouth, an effect that’s been a parody of itself in decades. And of course we have an even more cheap-looking body explosion that belongs in a discarded Xbox game from 2005, before we all can say Amen and good night. It was as dumb and comedic as I predicted after watching the first trailer, and given that I rarely laugh out loud in a movie theater, I can’t say I’m that disappointed.


The Pope's Exorcist The Pope's Exorcist


Director: Julius Avery
Writers: Michael Petroni, Evan Spiliotopoulos, R. Dean McCreary
Country & year: USA, UK, Spain, 2023
Actors: Russell Crowe, Daniel Zovatto, Alex Essoe, Franco Nero, Peter DeSouza-Feighoney, Laurel Marsden, Cornell John, Ryan O’Grady, Bianca Bardoe, Santi Bayón, Paloma Bloyd


Related post: The Devil and Father Amorth (2017)



Tom Ghoul