When the final wave of Fantastic Fest films came out the description of You Might Be the Killer stood out to me. A meta horror thriller with Fran Kranz and Alyson Hannigan? Sign me up for that goodness. And the film didn’t even have an IMDB page at that time so it was a real mystery. What more could one hope for going into a genre film festival? Not much really, so I geared up for the midnight screening.
Its going to be hard to go into too much about You Might Be the Killer without potentially spoiling something. Even if its in the first 15 minutes, the biggest stuff there is worth covering. So going broad; our story mainly follows Sam (Kranz) and Chuck (Hannigan). Sam is the owner/head counselor of a summer camp, and it seems someone is killing counselors. Sam reaches out to the best source of help he can: Chuck. Chuck runs a comic shop and is a massive horror buff who can help him work out the tropes. What follows is a meta and cleverly funny summer camp slasher film with a nonlinear story.
Quite honestly the cast is one of the biggest benefits of this film. Especially Kranz who really sells the character of Sam as the nicest guy in the world. I’ve liked Kranz since Dollhouse and he brings a great sarcastic and manic energy here. Its great seeing him get a leading role. Hannigan as well is someone I’ve been a fan of for ages and she makes Chuck a very familiar friend. As she brings out references to Maniac Cop and patronizes Sam for gaps in his memory of the night you really believe her friendship with him and trust her. I also want to highlight Jenna Harvey and Bryan Price as two of the counselors. Harvey plays the very sweet seeming and quiet Jamie who fits into her trope well but can be dry at times. And Price plays Steve “The Kayak King”, as he’s dubbed by Sam, who just seems super amicable. He gets a lot of great bits, especially with his nickname.
Truth be told I think writing and direction definitely patch up any holes in the film. You Might Be the Killer is co-written and directed by Brett Simmons who I didn’t know from anything else, but he nails it. The film is edited to have a very 80’s film grain, and the soundtrack has electronic tones that hearken back to the same time period. Also, the balancing of a non-linear story is one that can be easily messed up, but the clever use of title cards resolves that. These aren’t cards that call out different times, but rather the amount of dead counselors, just adding to the humor of the film. While the idea did originate from a twitter brainstorm by authors Sam Sykes and Chuck Wendig, the adaptation to screenplay feels incredibly natural.
I’m always a fan of meta horror, and You Might Be the Killer nails that. Its one of the smartest and funniest movies I’ve seen this year and really will be classic on my shelf when released. I highly recommend that you check it out when it hopefully gets released. It is a definite highlight of Fantastic Fest for me, which isn’t an award that’s easy to earn with its usual great lineup.