The 1982 video-nasty classic The Slumber Party Massacre – a confection of polyester sleepwear, orangey fake blood and phallic construction equipment with remarkable battery longevity, directed by Amy Jones – gets a reboot for a new generation with this, along with a more euphonious title, shorn of the definitive article. This time the director is Danishka Esterhazy, whose previous feature, The Banana Splits Movie, similarly retweaked a near-forgotten property from the pop-culture landfill. After an 80s-set prologue that establishes driller killer Russ Thorn’s (Rob van Vuuren) stalk-and-skewer modus operandi, we catch up with lone survivor Trish Deveraux (Schelaine Bennett) in the present day. Trish is now a paranoid parent, worriedly sending off her only daughter Dana (Hannah Gonera, delightful) off for a rustic overnighter with her friends. Will history repeat itself?
Not quite. Esterhazy and co have a few clever-ish tricks up their sleeves that invert viewer expectations. First and foremost is having a second slumber party in full swing across the lake, this one featuring a house full of beefcake boys, all lovingly filmed ripped abs and tousled hair, sinking beers and wantonly conducting pillow fights. The young women, on the other hand, are ready for trouble and therefore much slower to be picked off by the serial killer predator.
It all playfully flirts with horror film conventions, offering up a winking orgy of patently fake gore and irony that’s for the most part pretty fun. At least the cast seem well in on the joke and are clearly having a blast, although the package could have been improved with a fewer sharper one-liners and tauter comic timing. At least the cinematography is period accurate, resembling low-budget Betamax from the last century filmed with smudged lenses.
• Slumber Party Massacre is released on 13 December on digital platforms.