SATURDAY MORNING MASSACRE
Director: Spencer Parsons
Year of release: 2012
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 84 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only (with the exception of a German Blu-Ray)
Tagline: "Don't meddle with the Devil".
Also known as: Saturday Morning Mystery
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: A team of four paranormal investigators and their dog, styled after the characters in Scooby Doo take on an assignment which sees them spend the night at the notorious Kysler estate. Abandoned for years the residence is said to have a dark past with links to satanism and reports of ghostly goings on. Due to this far from ideal reputation the place has failed to attract any buyers despite being on the market for years. With the property falling into the hands of the local bank the decision is made to hire the paranormal squad in the hope that they can debunk the nasty rumours and help push forward a sale.
Happy to take on the assignment the investigators run into trouble when night falls at which time they realise they could be in well over their heads. After their van goes up in flames things spiral from bad to worse as the estates grisly secrets reveal themselves.
Good points: *The Scooby Doo angle makes for a very intriguing concept and is something which no doubt helps a lot with drawing attention to the film from fans of the cartoon. Underneath this gimmick there’s nothing really new as the idea of young people spending a night in a haunted house has been done many times. I thought this felt like a poorer version of Hell Night with elements of Shrooms thrown in with something involving a flask of acid so it borrows from other projects quite heavily. Despite this though the Scooby Doo inspired characters do add something, what turns out to be part homage and part parody to the popular show is easily the most watchable and interesting thing going on.
*Two characters stood out for me as being likeable and well developed. Firstly final girl Nancy, clad in eye catching stripy tube socks was the pick of the bunch as the one I found myself rooting for above all the others. The cop/Sheriff character also caught my eye as I enjoyed listening to him early on while he was giving the investigators a tour of the house. There was just something about the sound of his voice that I liked.
On the other side of the coin it’s a bit disappointing that the dog here is treated as something of an afterthought and doesn’t get much screen time. A pity really as taking into account the Scooby Doo inspiration you’d have thought the canine would have ended up being much more significant.
*Some effort is made to provide a backstory for the Kysler estate and for the killers themselves once they come truly into play near the end. It isn’t the clearest piece of backstory though as it left me uncertain on a couple of points.
Mild spoilers: I wasn’t sure why the land was in dispute with the council or whoever as it sounded like Kysler’s initially bought it outright. I also wasn’t sure on exactly what led to the suicide in the hotel room or whether it was just supposed to be the Kysler’s own children who disappeared or lots of them from the school. Some of this may have been touched on by Gwen who offers a theory towards the end but I couldn’t catch all of her dialogue. Whatever the case it’s all a bit muddled and could do with being explained/told more clearly.
Having said all of the above it’s a backhanded compliment more than anything else but at least they try and provide some sort of background so I’ll consider it a positive.
*After being slow and a bit boring in the first hour or so things pick up for the last quarter once the bodies finally begin to drop. At this stage it starts resembling a slasher after not feeling much like one at all in the time prior. It ends on a more exciting high note due to this faster pace towards the finish.
Bad Points: *As I say it’s quite slow paced in the early to middle parts and has very much the vibe of a haunting style horror film as opposed to a slasher. This won’t be an issue for those into that type of film but for myself not being a fan of ghosts and possessions and such I found it all laborious until the proverbial started really hitting the fan towards the climax. At this point it mutates into a fully fledged slasher and for me thus more watchable but up to that point I was struggling to stay interested.
*A strange part is included where Nancy tries to call the Sheriff on a number he left her but instead of reaching the man himself she instead makes contact with some sort of call centre sales type thing. I didn’t understand what was going on here. I thought perhaps they were trying to imply the Sheriff wasn’t really a cop and was faking it. If not that then maybe he was struggling financially and had a part time sales job and she caught him doing that (seeing that it was his personal number he gave her). Seeing that he seemed to have a crush on her though it doesn’t seem likely he’d provide her with a number that could potentially embarrass him or catch him out in a lie so I wasn’t sure what to make of it.
*There’s a very low budget feel to things and although some half decent gore and violence is served up with a couple of the kills towards the end the majority are either not very good or off camera altogether. There’s a relatively low body count as well which adds to the misery.
Additionally the van fire scene looks shoddy and has the look of something done with computers or something instead of with an actual burning vehicle. The lighting can get too dark at times as well making it hard to see what’s happening.
*I thought the killer looked absolutely dreadful. It’s often too dark when he’s on screen so it’s hard to get a clear picture of exactly what you’re dealing with but from the quick glimpses I saw I didn’t like his look or mannerisms at all. Not liking the killer really let things down for me in terms of my enjoyment for the film as a whole.
Verdict: This one just isn’t for me at all and felt far too slow and plodding in the pacing. It does pick up in fairness for the end to become somewhat more exciting but even then I wasn’t gripped and the poor excuse for a killer only cemented my disappointment.
The main appeal here is just the novel approach of using a popular cartoon of old as the inspiration but in my case I only watched Scooby Doo occasionally back in the day so wasn’t as interested as others might be. If you’re a fan of all things Scooby doo this is worth a gander but otherwise I’d steer clear.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Man from the bank: Something rushes him as the camera cuts away. Later found in the boot/trunk of the a car dead.
2)Chad: Decapitated with axe.
3)Floyd: Stabbed repeatedly.
4)Gwen: Hacked in half at the waist with an axe. Is finished off with handgun by Nancy in a mercy type killing.
5)Male lunatic: Shot by Nancy.
6)Female lunatic: Face pushed into water by Nancy. Drowns.
Review added on the 4th of August 2020.