With an original title like Exterminadores do Além Contra a Loira do Banheiro (which, literally, translates to Exterminators from Beyond Against the Blonde in the Bathroom), no one would actually expect a good movie. In fact, Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary (which is, still, a pretty terrible title) plays on the gimmick of recreating the vibes of a b-movie.
In this respect, Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary really achieves its goals and manages to be a very effective and satisfying horror-comedy. The movie was made in 2018, was screened at a few festivals in 2019, but it’s only now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary – plot and intentions
Directed by Fabrício Bittar, who is primarily known in Brazil for his comedies, Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary follows a group of struggling paranormal investigators and YouTubers attempting to land their big break: they agree to take on a seemingly simple case looking for a ghost haunting a local high-school. Being mostly sceptical about the existence of ghosts, they start to set up fake jump-scares and silly storylines for their viewership, until they realise the school is actually haunted by a vengeful spirit: will they be able to defeat it and get through the night?
As a horror-comedy, Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary succeeds at blending the two genres together. The comedy comes from the characters, the way the movie is shot and the absurdity of the situation. In terms of characters, for instance, the camera-man is clearly set up as the most rational of the group, but he’s constantly being ignored with the other characters listening to the most far-fetched theories and dismissing him completely. The whole approach of the main characters, who are convinced they’re making a masterpiece, contrasts with how poorly-made and amateur the footage is, making for a hilarious contrast. However, when the haunting scenes occur, they’re actually very thought-out and frightening. They’re mostly executed through jump-scares which, however, are never predictable and they often catch you off-guard. There is one stellar jump-scare involving a mirror that I found genuinely terrifying!
Visual comedy and b-movie tribute
In terms of comedy, one of the standouts is the gimmick of recreating bad visuals. Since we are supposed to believe our main characters are making a made-for-YouTube show, Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary is presented through loads of shitty technical aspects: the camera is very shaky, the characters break the fourth wall constantly, the shot composition is often hilariously bad. This might put off some viewers who are expecting to watch a professionally filmed movie, but there is clearly a lot of effort put into making the visuals look off and cheap.
On the other hand, Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary embraces the b-movie campiness by ignoring the rules of most ghost stories. Instead of simply using jump-scares and atmosphere, the film heavily relies on gore and over-the-top violence. In this regard, the special effects – mostly practical – are truly effective and well-done. This is a very violent and gruesome movie, but it avoids becoming disturbing and off-putting: limbs fly around and get chopped off in an impactful but comedic way, which helps the tone of the movie being funny.
Why so serious?
By the same token, though, there are one too many instances where Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary seemingly takes itself too serious, as though the movie tried to up the stakes in a rather unnecessary way. For example, this film insists on not one, but two different backstories for the villain (the ghost): within the context of the movie, this storyline feels both oddly serious and unnecessary. In fact, the runtime of the movie feels too long due to the exaggerated amount of time dedicated to backstories and character development.
These are aspects that would be necessary in a more straightforward, serious film; here, though, they only detract from the overall experience and slow down the pacing. Yet, some of the acting comes off as unironically wooden or too theatrical. I don’t think this was intentional, because it happens during the scenes that are implied to be more serious and significant.
Despite its flaws, Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary is a very entertaining and self-aware horror-comedy that most fans of the genre will probably like.
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