You Can't Kill Stephen King DVD Review
Written by Angry Scholar
DVD released by Big Screen Entertainment Group
Directed by Monroe Mann, Ronnie Khalil, and Jorge Valdes-Iga
Written by Monroe Mann, Ronnie Khalil, Bob Madia
2012, Region 0, 86 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on December 9th, 2014
Monroe Mann as Monroe Bachman
Ronnie Khalil as Ronnie
Crystal Arnette as Hilary Bachman
Kayle Blogna as Nicole
Kate Costello as Lori
Justin Brown as Lamont
You Can't Kill Stephen King is a horror comedy about a bunch of college-age kids who go on a trip to a lake house in Maine, near the supposed home of horror giant Stephen King. Hilarity and stabbing ensues. Only it's not all that hilarious. And actually I think, technically, only one person gets stabbed.
There's not much to the plot. It's an overt sendup of the slasher subgenre, with the meddling kids looking to have a good time and some curmudgeonly killer out to ruin their fun. There are pretty ladies in bikinis, creepy locals, and other genre tropes. There's also an amusing performance by writer/director Ronnie Khalil as a nerdy, sex-offenderish King fan. It's mostly lighthearted nonsense, though once or twice there are some jarring scenes – the first kill among them – that contrast with the overall goofiness.
The film is surprisingly polished, with able performances by the main cast who keep things appropriately light and self-aware. The pacing is good and by the end things are wrapped up in a fairly satisfactory manner.
The problem is that there's just very little substance, despite a clear effort by everyone involved. The issue is the writing. Horror comedy is a limited genre, but in recent years there have been some entries that set the bar fairly high. Shaun of the Dead, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, and The Cabin in the Woods are notable examples, all of which combine smart, snappy dialogue with physical humor and clever references to familiar horror conventions. You Can't Kill Stephen King is a solid effort but falls short in the humor department. It's just not that funny.
A closely related issue is the parodic nature of the film itself. Like all genre spoofs, this one makes a lot of explicit references to the horror genre. (In this case, not only are the characters hoping to meet Stephen King, but after people start dying it turns out that the individual kills mimic deaths from King's works.) But King isn't really a slasher author, and the references don't carry much weight here. There are a few mildly amusing bits, but on the whole it's a lot of setup without much of a punchline.
It's still an enjoyable film, though-infinitely better than the endless string of Wayans brother horror spoofs-and worth a watch. It's smart enough that I'd like to see more from these filmmakers. Just don't expect it to have much to do with your favorite King novel, or to be much funnier than a weeknight primetime laugh-tracked sitcom.
Video and Audio:
The video is crisp and bright. Sound is appropriate slashery, with some amusing references to the Friday the 13th cue (you know the one). There are some suitably saccharine, generic faux-punk songs early in the film (they match the "crazy college kids" vibe), which give way to more humorous folk-pop toward the end. The ending credits theme, "Put the Beast to Sleep" by Jeff Palmiotti and the Hey Rube, is a lot of fun and captures the mood of the film very well.
- Original Trailer