One is a straight bachelor party, the other a gay bachelor party. Let’s find out if either of these bashes was a blast.
PARTY BUS (2022)
Imagine the Saw confessional killing subgenre on a bus and you get Party Bus.
It all begins at a club, where the bachelor’s ex comes seeking closure, only to get swept up on his party bus before she can talk to him.
But before the bus action begins, there’s a gory massacre at the club during the opening credits. I think a drug is causing people to go psycho, but I’m not sure. This murder montage feels disconnected from the rest of the film. Even so, I wasn’t disappointed that it’s included.
When the bachelor’s brother crashes his celebration, things quickly turn dark and violent. The brother does some drugs and then demands the guests reveal their darkest secrets otherwise he will slaughter them.
And slaughter them he does—beginning with a nasty scene involving an unborn baby. This is a crass, nasty film that should satisfy exploitation fans.
The only thing that hinders the severity of the brutality is an odd audio issue. It felt to me like sound effects are missing, creating pockets of silence whenever any frenetic action takes place. For instance, someone will fall to the floor, but there’s no impact sound. Even so, the gratuitous violence and torturous kills deliver.
SUMMONING SYLVIA (2023)
Here’s one for the homo horror movies page. The humor in this gay ghost comedy may have been “cute” like twenty years ago, but for me most of it felt so cringe in its attempt at camp. This style of cliché gay shtick has been done to death, and even the name-dropping of gay icons is embarrassingly outdated. Some of the comedy works perfectly, but I found it gets drowned out by loads of predictable, over-the-top silliness.
Imagine a gay bachelor party where Ariana Grande’s brother Frankie Grande is one of the guests and the other three gays all think they’re equally as fierce and fabulous as him. Without any nuanced differentiation between characters, it gets…shrill to say the least. This vacation house film full of flamboyant gay men who all want to be the center of attention lacks any sense of balance. Instead of always being turned up to full volume frenetic, the comedy would have worked better with varying levels of tone and delivery.
Frankie and friends have a séance to summon a woman who was accused of murdering her son with an axe in the house years before. Yay!
Then the straight military brother of one of the grooms shows up. When lights begin flickering and there are mysterious bumps in the night, the gays run around screaming, squealing, and clinging to each other, while the straight guy stomps around unfazed and stony-faced. Sigh. This is why there are only gays in my Comfort Cove series of books, and all of them, from pretty boys to bears to drag queens, are always prepared to stand up to the creatures of the night.
There are a few twists, and horror fans may feel a little bamboozled when all is said and done. I know I did. I came looking for a gay horror comedy, not an episode of Scooby Doo.
Some of the gay happenings in the film include Frankie in an energetic sex scene, a dance montage, the straight guy making an accusation about predatory gay behavior (sigh), the queens singing Smashmouth’s “All Star” a cappella, and a grand finale featuring an extravagant and jarringly out of place drag performance.