Any plot synopsis will make high-concept slasher film The Funhouse Massacre sound way more fun than it actually is. Amateurish direction and generic characterization make a light premise — serial killers slaughter a rural carnival’s haunted-house patrons while pretending to be carnies — feel like a slog.
While co-writers Ben Begley and Renee Dorian invest more time in fleshing out their film’s antagonists, The Funhouse Massacre follows a relatively boring group of rubes, including lovesick shy guy Morgan (Matt Angel) and bland love interest Laurie (Dorian), as they slowly realize that the actors playing serial killers aren’t just putting on a show.
Worse, Begley and Dorian half-assedly try to shame viewers for enjoying the gore all movies like this promise. The killers’ leader, a Jim Jones–style cult leader known as Mental Manny (Jere Burns), tsk-tsks funhouse patrons for hypocritically reveling in crimes that in real life they would decry. But Manny’s charges never stick, especially given the film’s unremarkable scare scenes. Neophyte director Andy Palmer never settles on any baddie — maniacal dentist Doctor Suave (Sebastian Siegel), say, or disgruntled mad scientist The Taxidermist (a woefully underutilized Clint Howard) — long enough to exult in memorably gruesome details.
There are hints of a funny and satisfyingly gory horror-comedy peppered throughout, like when fraidy-cat fry cook Gerardo (Erick Chavarria) frantically cranks his van’s window to get a better look at a body slumped beneath his driver’s-side door. But there are nine dud scenes for every passable one, making enjoyment as likely as winning a kewpie doll at a shady Asbury Park ringtoss.
The Funhouse Massacre
Directed by Andy Palmer
Petri Entertainment & AMC Independent
Opens November 13, AMC Jersey Gardens 20