Satirical Horror Movies Give Peak Younger Siblings Energy

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

Satirical horror movies like Totally Killer are just like younger siblings. They’re cute, a little annoying, and can get away with anything — thanks to their older siblings paving the way.

Horror movies aren’t for everyone. Despite growing up on a healthy diet of horror thanks to my older brother and Friday night TV, I occasionally struggle to get excited for some of them because they’re either too predictable or, I’ll admit it, too spooky.

But when it comes with a strong dose of satire? Sign me up. They’re a little cheeky, sometimes kind of annoying, and they can get away with more than your classic horror movie by playing around or leaning into tropes. It’s the youngest sibling of horror movies, where older siblings set the standard of the genre, and their satirical counterparts tear it all down.

Take Totally Killer. From the same director of Always Be My Maybe, which played around with its own rom-com tropes, Nahnatchka Khan pulls from classic slashers and time travel movies to deliver one of the cheekiest horror comedies I’ve seen in a while.

“If you liked Always Be My Maybe, I think you’ll appreciate the comedy in this,” Nahnatchka Khan tells Junkee.

“And I also think that there’s an element of Always Be My Maybe that acknowledges the world that they’re in. So, it’s like we’re in a rom-com, but we’re playing around with some of those tropes in rom-coms in that movie, and we’re doing the same thing here.”

In Totally Killer, we’re rooting for Jamie (Kiernan Shipka) to stop this knifey murderer that took down her mum’s friend group back when she was in high school (Julie Bowen and Olivia Holt). Skipping all the technicalities of a time travel movie was one of the ways that Khan avoided all the potential paradoxes and kept all the fun.

“If we travelled back to 1987, I wouldn’t be able to break it down in terms of the quantum mechanics of it, but I would be like, have you seen Back to the Future? And using the pop culture references as ways to cut through the experience and the explanation of time travel and just buying into that.”

But the most fun that Totally Killer had was with my personal favourite slasher trope: don’t have sex.

“I think it’s just a funny way to have these girls just talk about the sexual experience in a way that they’re not objectified, whereas the sort of traditional slasher has kind of been doing that,” Khan explained. “It was really fun to go into the girl group in this movie and hear about sex from their point of view and in a comedic way.”

Would I go so far as to say that satirical horror movies do it better? Are films like Get Out or Barbarian, that use elements of comedy and satire to get the story across, better than straight shooters like Hereditary or The Witch? Depends on who you ask. But as a youngest sibling myself, I think it’s clear where I stand.