Tongue-in-cheek gorefest "The Funhouse Massacre" considers what would happen if a haunted house were set up and staffed by serial killers. That's a wicked horror premise — one that the filmmakers fail to fashion into an actual plot.
The movie's dull single-mindedness becomes obvious early, when director Andy Palmer and screenwriters Ben Begley and Renee Dorian spend 15 interminable minutes in an asylum, methodically introducing — and then springing — the maniacs who'll be doing the slaughtering for the next hour-plus. The intro teases Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund as a cynical warden who doesn't survive to the opening credits.
Begley and Dorian also star, the former as a bumbling goody-goody lawman, and the latter as one of a party of hipsters who come to the haunted house intending to mock it. The cast of killers includes skilled character actors Jere Burns and Clint Howard, who make the most of their scattered few minutes of screen time.
"The Funhouse Massacre" sports inventive gore effects and character design. (A stitch-faced doll-lady and droopy-masked killer-clown are especially creepy.) And the dialogue is sporadically witty, although the filmmakers rattle off too many one-note jokes about millennials' social media obsessions.
But nothing all that shocking or scary happens, as the minimal story quickly devolves into one methodical murder after another — their effect blunted by the jokey tone.
At one point, a local news reporter says of the fun house, "Is this in poor taste? Or just good old-fashioned spooky fun?" Honestly, "The Funhouse Massacre" isn't quite enough of either.
"The Funhouse Massacre."
MPAA rating: R for bloody horror violence, gore, language, sexual content, nudity, drug use.
Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes.
Playing: AMC Universal CityWalk Stadium 19, Universal City.
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