‘Slumber Party Massacre’ Review: This Thoughtful Reboot Reminds Us Why Slashers Are Fun

The Slumber Party Massacre walked so the reboot could run. The original trilogy was the first horror series written and directed by women and aimed to parody the slasher genre. But it was, unfortunately, a victim of the times. It’s filmed as a straightforward horror movie meant to appeal to the straight male gaze. This left audiences laughing at the movie, rather than with it. That resulted in people lumping it together with the films that it originally set out to poke fun at. While the uneven trilogy has picked up a cult following over the years—and more has come to light about the original intentions behind the film—I think it’s safe to say that most of us never expected a remake, let alone a good remake, to come out of this franchise.

What Slumber Party Massacre Is All About

Luckily writer, Suzanne Keilly, and director, Danishka Esterhazy, were up to the task. The result is a damn good time. Slumber Party Massacre seemingly picks the good intentions out of the remakes of the last decade. Keilly and Esterhazy blend them together with the energy of The Cabin in The Woods and the vibe of Tragedy Girls. It walks the very fine line between fan service (you will get your drill and the red guitar) and charmingly pointing out the absurdity of the choices that we have come to expect in a slasher. It not only sticks the landing, but it also asks us to dig beneath the surface.

Slumber Party Massacre

Slumber Party Massacre cheekily subverts expectations by having the group of young women riding into danger on purpose. Their goal is to set a trap for Russ Thorn (Rob Van Vuuren) our killer who preys on women. The group is led by Dana (Hannah Gonera) who wants to get back at the man that terrorized her mother Trish (Schelaine Bennett in the present, and Masali Baduza in the prologue). The reveal is equal parts clever and funny. But it is also just the beginning as the film starts to have fun reversing tired gender tropes. The film exploits male characters, blames toxic masculinity for irrational decisions, and pokes fun at true crime podcasts that have given the killer a large fan base. While all of this is fun, the movie also has rather deep roots that deserve further examination. 

Subverting Expectations

What blew my mind was watching the prologue and seeing a Black “final” girl. Then, I saw that character’s daughter turn around and also become a final girl. While Slumber Party Massacre has four final women total, having two of them be Black hit me in all of my feels seeing how most franchises can’t find a way to do that with a minimum of six to eight movies. I’m also really drawn to the idea of Dana taking on her mother’s trauma with a machete. Generational trauma is starting to become a mainstream conversation in a post-Lovecraft Country world, and this movie is a surprise entry to that conversation. Mother and daughter overcame this bloody hurdle together in the present so that they can hopefully find a new path forward together. 

Slumber Party Massacre

Another thing this movie handles so subtly that most might miss it is Kay ( Jennifer Steyn), the mother of the drill-wielding serial killer. Kay plays a part in her son’s mayhem. She gifts laced batches of cookies to the unsuspecting women who stay in the cabin. Her hope is that they go “to sleep instead of tempting him.” She also accuses Trish of ruining her son’s life, just in case anyone missed the slight nods towards this character’s relationship with rape culture. Her denial that she raised a monster while blaming his victims for his crimes elevates this character to a zany imitation of some of the women characters who failed the protagonist of Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman. Kay’s arc doesn’t feel heavy-handed or forced. It’s refreshing after some recent remakes missed the mark and did more harm than good while navigating this particular topic. 

Slumber Party Massacre provides a male slumber party pillow fight, and a couple of fun running gags. But it also packs a few unexpected punches that land a bit better on the second watch. As someone with a history of not loving reboots (or most horror comedies), I was pleasantly surprised by this entry into the current PG-13 slasher boom that’s taken over this year. 

Slumber Party Massacre is now available exclusively on SYFY.



This remake pays respect to the source material while also understanding today’s audience. It is a reminder of what makes slashers fun.



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