Killer Book Club wants you to know that it’s aware of the slasher road films like the Scream franchise and I Know What You Did Last Summer have paved for it. It’s to the extent that it combines many of the classic elements into one package. You have many different characters serving different high school personality archetypes coming together around one cause. Then, of course, something unexpectedly goes wrong, and many of them get caught in the vengeful crosshairs of a serial killer.
For what it’s worth. Director Carlos Alonso Ojea, cinematographer Pablo Diez, and editor Luis de la Madrid sought to make their take on this genre visually appealing. The film is full of bright colors, quick cuts, and moves briskly, so it doesn’t ever feel like the characters aren’t in imminent danger – at least after Killer Book Club establishes itself. The center revolves around Ángela (Veki Velilla), who once wrote a widely popular book, but has been plagued with a six-year writer’s block. Within that, she starts a book club where a collection of her friends meet to discuss various horror tales.
These eight characters fit a specific role, as many do in other slasher films. For example, Nando (Iván Pellicer) is Ángela’s devoted, but perhaps clingy boyfriend. Sebas (Álvaro Mel) is a librarian who seems to have a long-standing crush on Ángela. Her best friend Sara (Ane Rot) is the Stu character who explains the potential tropes in what’s occurring (this time in book form). I think you catch the drift.
The most horrific element in Killer Book Club is at the hands of a sleazy professor named Cruzado (Daniel Grao) and his attempted sexual assault of Ángela as she seeks his advice on formulating a story. In considering revenge, the group draws inspiration from a Killer Clown book they are reading the group. On the night of the supposed plan, things don’t precisely follow the track it’s supposed to, and Cruzado gets killed accidentally. If the group’s troubles weren’t complicated enough, they would receive a text from an anonymous source writing the story of their deaths and forging ahead with it.
In the story by Carlos García Miranda, some interesting threads get left hanging by following the conventional paths of films before it. There’s a hint that Ángela has coulrophobia, intensifying the horror of what’s occurring. However, that seems to be abandoned halfway through the film. A striking sequence of events occurs at Killer Book Club, which is engaging and ties back to a previous story. It gets bogged down by the need for the narrative to retrace the lines of the classics.
It’s not like the film doesn’t have enough elements at its disposal to make something unique, but familiar. There’s a viral challenge gone wrong and how books can be interpreted within a motion picture. Despite this, much of the strife and stress originate from places we have already been and compact scenarios we know and love. Despite the stylish introductions, connecting with characters other than Ángela is hard. Other than a telegraphed love triangle, they serve as bloody fodder without much of a fuss.
Acknowledge the things that came before you, but also know thyself. Instead of making its own twists on the often fun murder-mystery angle of the horror genre, Killer Book Club elects to be more of a carbon copy of things flipped before in every way possible for years.