Here are a handful of films that helped usher in the post-Scream era of slashers in which the main characters are so obnoxious and self-centered you don’t care if they all die—or who is killing them! So essentially, it’s a celebration of good death scenes.
CHRISTINA’S HOUSE (2000)
Christina’s House is a pseudo-slasher in which the killer is living somewhere inside the main girl’s house! The opening scene is pretty chilling. A girl selling cookies door-to-door is yanked into a house and violently killed. The musical score is completely dropped, giving this an eerily realistic feel as the sounds of the girl fighting for her life fill the silent house.
Next, Christina (Allison Lange of Gacy, Single White Female 2, and Alone in the Dark 2) moves into the house with her younger brother and her father. The mother is in an insane asylum. Christina’s dad gives off a total pedo vibe and may be hiding secrets about the truth of why the mom went mad. Christina’s new boyfriend (Brendan Fehr of Disturbing Behavior, Final Destination, The Forsaken, and Silent Night) has anger issues. The cute, mysterious carpenter working on the house (Brad Rowe, who starred in gay film Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss opposite Sean Hayes) gives off a creeper vibe. And the cop who comes poking around investigating the disappearance of the cookie girl is super shady.
So essentially, any man in Christina’s life could be the killer she starts to believe is sneaking around her house and reading her diary. She has a horrible relationship with her dad—particularly since he keeps catching her with her boyfriend’s hands all over her, causing her to rebel when dad pretty much calls her out for slutting around with a bad boy. The boyfriend is crazy jealous that she spends time talking to the carpenter…and of the questionable attention her father pays to her. Meanwhile, the boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend wants to destroy her.
While the body count isn’t high, various victims keep disappearing around the house. Kills are very tame, often involving someone just being grabbed and pulled off screen. Eventually, Christina and her brother get locked in with the killer, who has some pretty heinous death contraptions set up around the house—and a bunch of bodies in the attic.
While the film is intriguing, moves at a steady pace, and has that gnarly death contraption (best part of the movie), it’s kind of predictable, but in a familiar, 90s thriller kind of way that makes you feel at home (with a killer). Unfortunately, because Christina’s whole relationship with her dad is so icky—he’s a bit pervy and she’s a bit disrespectful—she isn’t a particularly likable final girl. On top of that, the killer’s motivation pretty much leaves you with a million unanswered questions, and the final scene is presented in such a confusing way that some have interpreted it as implying there’s a supernatural element!
DO YOU WANNA KNOW A SECRET? (2001)
This mess of a movie that went straight to the bargain bin has so much of the cheesy polish of slashers of its time that it polishes out any personality!
The opening scene is pretty darn tight, if not overly simplistic. A dude thinks he hears his girlfriend outside his dorm room, so he goes looking for her, encounters some cheap scares, and is then taken down by a robed, masked killer with an axe—off screen.
Then shit falls apart fast. We meet Beth, whose boyfriend was the one killed (a year ago). She’s now with Joey Lawrence, who has rented a summer home. So they go party with a bunch of their friends. A majority of the film bombards us with annoying cheap scares—especially since the one black guy in the group (so 2001) likes to jump out and scare people. There’s also a skank who tries to steal Joey, a chick I think is Latin who cares more about her minority status than anyone else does, and Chad Allen as the mysterious douchebag of the group.
We also have, Jeff Conaway as a detective who comes poking around to ask questions about the murder of Beth’s boyfriend a year ago (?). While it seems like the kids went away to this summer home, I guess they’re still near the college (?). We watch their uneventful night on a boat, they go to a rave and Beth sees someone in a mask across the dance floor, there are some kills (mostly off screen), Beth has cheap scare nightmares, they continue to party even after one of their friends dies, confusing scenes are tossed in to make it seem that Jeff Conaway is hiding something (which leads to nothing), and we are completely thrown off by a sudden, out of context scene of a religious family being murdered.
Eventually, Beth and one remaining friend end up at a church. The movie feels so painfully cheap and slapped together at this point that you don’t even care. There is absolutely no tension or suspense as the final confrontation plays out, and the killer admits to wanting them all dead because they’re a bunch of privileged brats. Any attempt for the final living characters to clarify the plot through a dialogue exchange makes matters even worse and you have no idea what the fuck any of it was all about.
Yet, as bad as this film is, eventually, parts of it were re-edited with new footage to create a sequel to the slasher The Pool! I have yet to find The Pool 2 available to watch anywhere, but I’m so curious….
DEAD TONE (2007)
I will never understand what possessed anyone to have Flavor Flav appear as a horror host for a brief moment at the beginning of this film. It completely devalues what is what I’d say is one of the best post-Scream slashers that focuses on a bunch of privileged assholes. It’s way better than that April Fool’s Day shit remake, that’s for sure.
The opener is hardcore. A bunch of kids is making prank calls when all of a sudden some fucker appears out of nowhere and hacks the fuck out of everyone with an axe. DAMN.
Moving on to a college campus, some dude is jerking off to Internet porn, complete with deliciously moist noises, gets a pussy scare, and then gets face-fucked by an axe. This is followed by a completely routine first hour. A bunch of college kids takes a road trip to a rich friend’s mansion in the mountains for a party. There’s killer POV, bogus scares during a pit stop at a convenience store, a crazy old guy warning the kids of danger, a wardrobe decision montage, the usual socializing, sex (some tits), and party shenanigans. Finally, the friends start making prank phone calls.
And then…it happens. HOLY FUCK does it happen. It’s nonstop chopping as the killer pops in wearing a snow parka and carrying an axe (Urban Legend 4?), and starts mutilating the frick out of rich brats. It’s fast-paced suspense and gore right up to the bitter end. The intensity and brutality here makes sense, considering one of the directors went on to make Chain Letter, another slasher that scores big time with me simply because the kills rule. The conclusion and killer reveal of Dead Tone won’t win any awards for originality, but damn does it deliver the slasher fun.
Rutger Hauer has a role as a detective still working on the case of the first prank call massacre. Also, the diverse cast includes some familiar faces, including cutie Antwon Tanner (One Tree Hill), hottie Jonathan Chase (Another Gay Movie, The Gingerdead Man), and Aimee Garcia (Dexter). There’s even a flamboyant gay Latino character.
Plus, there are four black characters, and they end up sticking around longer than most of the whities. Unfortunately, in the end, things revert back to the typical, unjust fate of black characters throughout the history of horror movies….