Spain seems to have a production line for Netflix horror flicks, churning them out with a kind of reckless abandon. The latest to hit the scene is “Killer Book Club,” which aims to put a twist on the classic slasher formula where victims are picked off one by one. There’s potential to shake things up in this genre, but it takes a clever touch and a sharp wit—qualities that this film lacks, sadly. Instead, it falls into the trap of predictability, and here’s the lowdown.
The movie kicks off with a shocker: a girl douses her mother in gasoline and strikes a match—boom, a fiery nightmare ensues. Fast forward six years, and we’re thrown into a completely different vibe with a bunch of college students getting their kicks from scary clown videos online. These eight students make up the book club at their university, meeting in a basement decked out with the kind of dramatic lighting you only find in horror movies—dark corners and splashes of color that scream ‘spooky vibes’ and show off the director’s flair for visuals.
Let me introduce the crew, complete with the quirky nicknames the killer in the clown mask has for them: there’s Angela, our brave ‘Heroine’ (Veki Velilla); Nando, the brooding ‘Emo’ (Ivan Pellicer); Rai, the untamed ‘Wild Man’ (Carlos Alcaide); Sara, the stunning ‘Babe’ (Ane Rot), Koldo, the trendy ‘Influencer’ (Hamza Zaidi); Eva, the studious ‘Librarian’ (Maria Cerezuela); Virginia, the spoiled ‘Brat’ (Priscilla Delgado); and Sebas, the lovestruck ‘Simp’ (Alvaro Mel). You’ll appreciate these labels—they not only help you distinguish who’s who but also add a bit of personality where the script itself doesn’t quite manage to.
One unfortunate day, Angela faces a terrible ordeal at the hands of her creepy literature professor. In response, her book club buddies don some sinister clown costumes and arm themselves with clawhammers for a prank—though I secretly wished they’d go for something more poetic in their choice of tools. Their plan to scare him into learning his lesson goes horribly wrong when he topples over a railing and lands, with a gruesome thud, on a statue of Don Quixote. Talk about a major blunder! Isn’t it just the worst when that happens? It sure gets my goat!
The group quickly burns all proof of their mishap and swears to keep their lips sealed forever and ever (and ever). But no, they don’t get their “happily ever after.” During a class on “autofiction,” their peace is shattered by the ping of their phones. Someone has published the opening of a tale about eight students who accidentally kill a professor and are scrambling to hide it. The mysterious writer threatens to release eight chapters, each detailing the horrific demise of one member. It’s got to be an inside job, right? With this revelation, our not-so-bright heroes start making a series of bad decisions, like wandering alone in spooky places and setting themselves up as easy targets for the real killer.
Now it’s all on Angela, our ‘Heroine,’ to survive because this flick gives off strong vibes that it’ll wrap with the cliché image of the lone survivor in one of those shiny emergency blankets, shivering from the night’s terrors. But hey, I’m not giving away any spoilers here! Just saying, you know how these things tend to go.
In the early scenes of “Killer Book Club,” there’s a moment where Professor Shitbird Grabbyhands dismisses fan fiction with a sneer, mocking its foundation on others’ creativity. It’s unclear whether the film is trying to make a statement about itself or simply setting up a hurdle it fails to clear. The attempt to nod respectfully to its inspirations falls flat, leaving it lost in a sea of similar neo-slashers. The movie seems to think it’s being smart by piling on surprise twists towards the end. Sure, it’s not easy to guess what’s coming next, but that’s mostly because the plot is overly complex and tosses logic aside like an afterthought – take the character who survives a mere scratch when they should’ve been done for.
The film’s attempts at cleverness don’t extend to the uninspired dialogue or the forgettable characters. They fail to linger in your mind or tug at any heartstrings (I can only laugh at the forced Simp-Heroine-Emo love triangle). These characters are so bland they don’t even manage to be stereotypical, offering nothing for the actors to work with. They’re merely cogs in a storyline that would need to be extraordinary to overcome such weaknesses – but it’s anything but. Even the death scenes lack originality, which is a letdown for those who crave some gruesome action in their horror flicks.
Director Carlos Alonso Ojea tries to inject some flair into the movie to compensate for its flaws. Yet without engaging our emotions, intellect, or desire for thrills, “Killer Book Club” ends up being just another forgettable entry in the genre. My advice? Toss this one into the bargain bin. It’s a definite pass.
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