Nahnatchka Khan (Fresh Off the Boat, Dwayne Johnson’s NBC comedy Young Rock and Always Be My Maybe) makes fun of our modern obsession with true crime with her new film Totally Killer, which premiered at Fantastic Fest last week and arrives on Prime Video now. A time travel thriller similar to Back to the Future but with an Scream-lite sense of self-awareness is what awaits viewers in Totally Killer.
At Totally Killer, few films do a better job at parodying beloved genres than Kiernan Shipka-starring horror comedy Totally Killer. This new horror comedy also starring Kiernan Shipka from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Mad Men fame dives deep into slashers, 80s teen comedies, time travel films and one of our modern obsessions: true crime. Set in Vernon which gained notoriety for its Sweet 16 Killer murder spree of 1987 that left townspeople reeling, including victims’ friend Pam (Julie Bowen), who still wishes she could stop the killer from killing off her mother as well.
To do this, she enlists the aid of Amelia and her time machine, which accidentally transports Jamie back to 1987 on the night the killings began. Together they form a plan to track down and stop the killer and alter history – unlike most teen slasher movies. Instead, its humor lies in 2020s Jamie being shocked at lax security measures at her high school as well as sexist attitudes among her mother’s friends in 1987.
Totally Killer not only pays tribute to classic movies but also some modern ones as well. Director Nahnatchka Khan knew that for any film like this to stand out, its director must add their own distinctive touch. She took inspiration from Back to the Future’s depiction of 1950s America in order to craft an unnerving killer look who can rival Max Headroom himself! The result is an absolutely terrifying masked villain reminiscent of Max Headroom himself!
Totally Killer is an entertaining movie that stands out in its genre. While parts may feel familiar, that’s because this movie combines all of the best parts from Scream, Back to the Future and other final-girl films into one enjoyable package with great performances by Kiernan Shipka as Kiernan herself – definitely make time to see this one if any of these movies appeals.
35 years after a masked psychopath killed three teenage girls and left one for him, The Sweet Sixteen Killer returns on Halloween night to claim another victim. Jamie (Kiernan Shipka), a modern teenager who ignores her overprotective mother’s warnings, accidentally time travels back to 1987 in an effort to stop the murders there and hunts down the killer alongside Olivia Holt’s character (her high school self). However, their efforts may alter future events irreparably and it becomes impossible to return back home without altering future events that she cannot anticipate.
Totally Killer is a funny yet scary film with plenty of gore, making a social commentary on generation gaps. While its humor doesn’t hit as hard as Gen Z movies such as Bodies Bodies Bodies or nostalgic trippiness like Stranger Things, its scares keep things lively enough throughout its 103 minutes runtime. Dialogue is snappy and its cast of characters match perfectly, with Shipka especially excelling as an actress capable of both comedic and serious roles.
Nahnatchka Khan directed this film with skill. She demonstrated this talent on ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat and in her short-lived TV series Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23; when pushing boundaries with quirky references or creating scenes that feel genuine. Furthermore, Nahnatchka made an inspired decision to include an innovative scene where Jamie attempts to spread fake blood over a white carpet without it looking obvious or realistic.
Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson stars as Jamie’s contemporary best friend Amelia Creston; Liana Liberato, Kelcey Mawema, Jeremy Monn-Djasgnar and Lochlyn Munro all make appearances in this film as well. Randall Park from VEEP and Fresh Off the Boat provides welcome comic relief as a sheriff who rejects Jamie’s attempts at reporting murders before they occur.
Totally Killer is a highly entertaining slasher film that makes great use of its timey-wimey premise. Kiernan Shipka gives a captivating performance as Kierna who goes back in time to save herself and her mother from Sweet Sixteen serial killer, though at times this flick loses steam due to sloppy direction and visuals.
Nahnatchka Khan’s (Fresh Off the Boat, Always Be My Maybe) Amazon Prime release, Kiernan Shipka goes back in time in order to prevent her mother’s death at the hands of an anonymous serial killer known as “The Sweet Sixteen.” It takes place in North Vernon where this serial killer committed a string of brutal murders known as “The Sweet Sixteen.”
At the start of the movie, a tongue-in-cheek true crime podcast informs audiences that several girls from the local high school who attended the titular Halloween party decades prior had been murdered by an anonymous killer. Shipka plays Jamie who wants to spend Halloween night with her girlfriends so as to escape her overprotective mother Pam (Julie Bowen). On this fateful evening they are terrorized by an anonymous killer – and what happens could alter all their futures forever.
This satirical slasher flick features plenty of profanity-laced humor and Reagan era nostalgia as well as some genuine suspenseful moments, though many viewers with low heart rates might find only minor scares effective; similarly, its time travel premise doesn’t provide any tangible rewards either.
Budget constraints in this film are obvious, yet Khan does a commendable job with what she had available to her. Her choice to visually depict Shipka’s time travel through dissolves and special effects giving off an ’80s aesthetic works well, while their final showdown at an amusement park spinny Gravitron ride provides an exciting way for them to face off against each other; though more effective results would’ve come had they set it during that decade instead.
Totally Killer doesn’t feature a post-credits scene, but the film does end on an amusing note. Older Lauren presents Jamie with notebook pages detailing all of the changes she brought about through time travel – many related directly to Jamie herself; others were due to interactions between people in the ’80s. Shipka’s progressive Gen Zer is often shocked at their retrograde political attitudes, which creates some great comic moments as she attempts to navigate this culture clash.
At its core, Totally Killer is an entertaining slasher-comedy film. It doesn’t attempt to hide what it is; in fact, its playful homage to Back to the Future and impressive mix of slasher tropes make this an enjoyable watch on Halloween night with friends. Although not an all-time genre classic, Totally Killer makes for an excellent Halloween watch with friends.
Kiernan Shipka is an actor capable of both genre and character drama roles, and she brings all her skills to the role of Jamie. With charisma and charm she drives Totally Killer even when its plot turns illogical in its third act. Helps that she’s obviously having fun with the material and that enthusiasm translates to the audience. Cast is strong; film offers many inventive kills (including an unforgettable final showdown on an amusement ride ). Blumhouse’s experiment in merging genres has proven fruitful with films like Happy Death Day 2: Happy Reunion doing well at the box office as proof.