[Cinepocalypse 2019 Review] Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary
At one point in the Brazilian export Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary (Exterminadores do Além Contra a Loira do Banheiro), a character wisely says, “this movie should be 20 minutes long! We could be in bed by now!” And while it’s delivered tongue-in-cheek, there’s some meta merit to these vaguely prophetic words.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a movie that toils in juvenile humor should ominously begin in a bathroom. A bathroom where two teenagers perform a ritual of knocking on a stall three time, flushing a toilet three times and saying Catarina (the name of this school’s version of Bloody Mary) three times and end up summoning the ghost. After this brief cold open, the attention turns to a YouTube channel about a group of people who call themselves Ghoulbusters.
The Ghoulbusters are comprised of Caroline (Dani Calabresa), the psychic; Fred (Léo Lins), the wanna be celebrity; Jack (Danilo Gentili) the props/weapons maker; and Túlio (Murilo Couto), the put upon fourth wheel who carts the equipment around and films their shenanigans. They were semi-successful on YouTube until they started monetizing their videos. With subscribers dwindling and a TV offer seemingly vanishing in front of their face, they eagerly take the case of Bloody Mary at Isaac Newton high school.
Of course, they believe it’s fake and go about setting up their usual parlor tricks to film. So when the ghost actually does appear, it takes them awhile before realizing this isn’t a stunt set up by Jack. Instead, the ghost is causing havoc throughout the school. But will they figure it out before it’s too late?
What follows is a basic slapstick story with humors that rely on visual gags and name-dropping other (better) movies. The first act is rather painful, as it mostly relies on the acting of the three main male actors, who are apparently famous in Brazil for their comedy shows like the talk show The Noite com Danilo Gentili. As a standup comedian, they might be entertaining. But as actors it’s a bit painful to watch…which might be the point. The acting reminds me of the atrocious acting by Zak Baggans in his Ghost Adventures show and his “true” movie Demon House. And it’s obvious that that’s the style of over-the-top hamminess they’re going for.
Things improve in the second act, when the narrative and acting take backseat to wanton destruction. Gallons of blood explode from almost literally anything. Phones. Walls, Doors. Heads. The sky. It’s at its best when it’s trying to ape the style of The Evil Dead 2 or similar blood-soaked comedies. But it’s nowhere near as clever or funny.
About an hour in, it begins to lose steam and so it falls back on poop and fart jokes. Jokes about drinking HIV. Jokes about having sex with an older woman. Gay jokes. A moment when I literally wrote in my notes, “An albino fetus tries to strangle someone with its umbilical cord. Oh now it’s jacking off in the victim’s face. So. You know. That’s a thing that happened.”
Oh. Now there’s a possessed poop.
It has that kitchen sink mentality which can lead to fantastic things like Braindead/Dead Alive or it can just fall flat. Unfortunately, most of the jokes and visual gags just don’t land here. You might chuckle at the absurdity mentioned above but unless you’re drunk or thirteen it probably won’t elicit more than a groan or a surprised chuckle. It also doesn’t help that the movie is an hour and 45 minutes long when it should have been a cool 80 minutes.
I have a review posting tomorrow of an animated movie called Attack of the Demons. I bring this up because both Attack of the Demons and Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary riff on classic films. But while Attack of the Demons utilizes homages to great effect and never felt imitative, this movie movie…well, as Marilyn Manson sings, “mutilation is the most sincere form of flattery.”
And this has mutilation in spades.