Review

Review

FEARNET Movie Review: 'Saturday Morning Massacre'

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When is a Scooby-Doo satire not exactly a Scooby-Doo satire? When it arrives in the form of an indie horror flick like Saturday Morning Massacre, a low-budget but clever enough little concoction from a group of young filmmakers who have little besides a game cast, a creepy location, and (fortunately) some actual skills in the filmmaking department. Here we have a group of four young adults and a loyal dog who trek across the country investigating, you guessed it, mysterious paranormal occurrences, only to finally butt heads with something horrific and inexplicable. So while it's true that the premise is pretty familiar, director Spencer Parsons and his numerous co-writers find ways to subvert convention and deliver a clever little homage that's both "in-joke" funny and, eventually, pretty darn scary.

 
Don't let the phrase "Scooby-Doo satire" turn you off; Saturday Morning Massacre is not broad wackiness or cartoony sound effects. It's more like the filmmakers realized that most indie horror films that deal with young people in an unpleasant location are little more than Scooby-Doo episodes anyway, so why not actually acknowledge the similarities? No, the dog doesn't talk and no, the characters do not act like Fred, Daphne, Velma, or Shaggy, but there's still an amusing familiarity to the caricatures that makes the first half of Saturday Morning Massacre feel novel -- even when the flick suffers through one or two egregiously dry spots.
 
It's the off-kilter humor and the strange Scooby-Doo gimmick that keeps a viewer enjoyably off-balance in the early sections of the movie, but (and I won't spoil anything) Saturday Morning Massacre improves tenfold in its third act, which is when the secrets of the "haunted mansion" are revealed and our quartet of plucky heroes realizes that they're in way over their heads. Let's just say things get less funny in a big hurry. In addition to some crafty cinematography by Drew Daniels (I loved the "searching the house" montage!), a dash of effective scoring, and a strong acting quartet (Ashley Spillers, Jonny Mars, Adam Tate, Josephine Decker) that prevents the movie from ever getting too wacky or dry, there are also some pretty clever screenwriting touches littered across the flick.
 
Clearly made for virtually no money, Saturday Morning Massacre may exist mainly as a "calling card" for several young filmmakers, but it's still a well-made and crafty piece of low-budget horror with a sly sense of humor. I suspect this movie was made by people who love horror films and Scooby-Doo in equal measure, and simply felt like mashing the two together for fun. And regarding those few slow spots I mentioned earlier, they're a small price to pay for the good stuff that Saturday Morning Massacre has to offer ... and I'm not just talking about the ass-kicker of an ending.
 
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