It can be a bad sign when a modern horror-comedy starts dropping references to classic horror movies right off the bat.
Case in point: In the first three minutes of James Roday’s Gravy, a character states, apropos of nothing, that she’s from Haddonfield, which the target audience is likely to know as the town from John Carpenter’s Halloween. Roday’s Gravy is smothered in far more overt pop-culture references, but like the film’s ample violence and gore, it’s all delivered with such energy and fun that it’s still easy to love.
On Halloween night, psychopaths Anson (Michael Weston), Mimi (Lily Cole), and Stef (Jimmi Simpson) hold the denizens of a Mexican cantina hostage, including owner Chuy (Paul Rodriguez) and security guard Winketta (Gabourey Sidibe). The invaders intend to eventually eat them, but not without first torturing their prey, including via a high-stakes game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (none of this Brian Cox bullshit, thank you very much).
The fast-paced Gravy is kind of like a Rob Zombie film by way of Bobcat Goldthwait’s Shakes the Clown — not because Anson is dressed like a clown, but because of the many bickering partners — and succeeds where so many other horror-comedies fail by remembering to be funny first and shocking second. Having a tasty script helps, too.
Directed by James Roday
Opens October 2, Village East Cinema
Available on demand
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 29, 2015