1988? 2018? What’s the difference?

No time period is so connected to a specific sub-genre of horror the way the 80’s are to the slasher film. Literally hundreds of films followed the template set out by films such as Black Christmas and Halloween. Put a bunch of young people together, kill them in increasingly creative ways, and make sure the tough-but-pure final girl overcomes the masked killer (but don’t forget to leave that sequel hook!)

DON’T LOOK is a love letter to the simpler times of the horror genre. When the effects were practical, plot was unnecessary, and you could sit around with a group of friends and some adult beverages and enjoy death after death of characters you really don’t care about.

In DON’T LOOK, Nicole and her four friends are leaving New York City behind and taking a vacation in the deep country to Nicole’s childhood home. She hasn’t been back since some rather traumatic events in her childhood. As she tries to deal with those tragic memories, she and her friends must deal with a lack of cell reception, a creepy redneck family, and a masked killer that may have a link to what happened all those years ago.

This film really doubles down on all the fun slasher tropes that 80’s kids will remember. None of the characters are given much in the way of backstory, but they’re generally likeable (except the ones you’re supposed to hate to make their deaths more enjoyable). The killer’s mask is a wonderfully creepy design, and the kills make great use of the decaying farmland setting. There’s enough scantily clad women to get the testosterone flowing, and just enough gags to keep it from feeling too serious.

I’m especially a fan of one kill early in the film. Several film scholars have pointed out that the blood splatter that occurs when a character is stabbed or slashed in a horror film acts the same way as a “money shot” in pornography. This film takes that analysis to hilarious levels. You can tell that writer/director/star Luciana Faulhaber took special glee in putting new twists on very familiar scenes. I also appreciate the title referencing the extreme abundance of “Don’t” slasher films that came out in the 80’s (as lambasted by Edgar Wright’s incredible fake trailer included in Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse).

While I thoroughly enjoyed this film, I’m unsure whether or not it will hit the same way with younger audiences who didn’t grow up with slasher films as the forbidden fruit of the film world. I think it relies a little too much on old tropes for its humor, and audiences who grew up in the torture porn era of Saw and Hostel might not see the same appeal.

Nevertheless, this is a heartfelt and sincere attempt at recreating the pure fun of 80’s classics like Friday the 13th, The Burning or April Fool’s Day. Anyone who is a fan of slashers should really give this one a look. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with how faithful the film is to the genre, while also feeling fresh and vital in 2018.

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