Fabrício Bittar‘s Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary in a nutshell: vanilla-as-sin title, unexpectedly batshit paranormal warfare. “Social media influencer” horror stories are a tough pitch given how vlogger energetics specifically tune into a particular millennial-to-Gen-Z crowd, but writers Andre Catarinacho and Danilo Gentili (alongside Bittar) skewer YouTube celebutante status as a means of entertainment. I’ve been burned by too many Smiley or Cam2Cam digital horror duds, but Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary has more in common with “fraudulent spectral detective” howlers like Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum and Grave Encounters…except with a heavier lean into goopy midnight comedy?
What am I saying. Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary is the goriest, wackiest, most fiendishly fun Brazilian horror comedy you could want. Precisely the kind of midnighter I seek out — emphasis on literal mind-blowing effects, kitchen-sink storytelling, and incomparable graveyard craziness.
The premise: The “Ghoulbusters” face declining online viewership as their ghost-huntin’ content can’t keep up with internet trends. When Túlio’s (Murilo Couto) butcher uncle is ready to evict them from his backroom office, a dream offer comes through. Director Nogueira (Sikêra Junior) summons the undead investigators to Issac Newton High School, where “Cotton Girl” – better known as “Bloody Mary” – is suspected to be haunting bathroom mirrors. The ‘Busters install projectors and dress Túlio as a blonde-haired spirit like their usual deceptive blueprints, but it’s not long before Jack (Danilo Gentili), Fred (Léo Lins), and Caroline (Dani Calabresa) come face-to-face with their first real phantom foe. They’re ill-equipped and desperately need an exit ASAP.
Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary makes its North American debut at this year’s Cinepocalypse film festival with no U.S. distribution deal as of yet. Until some company hopefully grants the film its deserved theatrical run, here are three slop-covered reasons to smash the “Like” button on this hilarious schoolhouse massacre.
1. Every Scene Tries To Outdo The Last
Horror films, spiritual haunts especially, run a risk of becoming repetitive as straightforward haunts don’t vary much in execution. Dark hallways, jump scares, evilness appearing out of nowhere – you know the hits. But Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary makes an early narrative choice that is a direct commentary on complacent horror, as each scene pushes further than the last. The Ghoulbusters are constantly challenged by forces that cannot be defined, contained, or predicted in the most surprising and rewarding ways. Continuity makes up rules on the fly, but you’re too busy cackling to care.
Bittar‘s deadly lock-in is far more than just a simple ghost story. Bloody Mary can possess whoever or whatever she wants, which provokes creature influences reminiscent of Sam Raimi or Gremlins into taunting foes and inflicting wounds with equal enthusiasm (a walking fetus may or may not shake its tush, for example). The gore honors head-splitting Scanners explosions, decapitations, and caked-on fluids that thicken atop characters’ skin with a devotion to messiness not unlike Dead Alive. I can’t oversell the disgustingness that crawls from a high school’s bathroom toilet (uh, literally), but still, within all this over-the-top gore exists a paranormal architecture that honors traditional apparition haunts. It’s not typical for a “ghost story,” and wholly applauded by someone like myself who thrives on extreme midnighter ambition yet still enjoys red-eyed demon children in an urban legend fright.
2. The Ghouls Know How To Have Fun
Your mileage for Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary will vary based on your attraction to horror comedies. Sequences favor (admittedly often immature) humor much like Ash Vs. Evil Dead or Todd & The Book Of Pure Evil over nerve-slashing genre dread. Gags include but aren’t limited to: ‘Busters debating the ethics of a “Bloody Mary threesome,” self-aware dialogue from characters as if they were watching the movie, constant references to American pop culture, and slapstick bits of slipping in blood puddles or screaming like petrified babies at real ghosts. It’s what happens when karmatic horrors confront ego-driven pretty boys and raunchy fakers, but works given the film’s indulgent desire to punish the characters without remorse.
There are instances where meta jokes become a bit much, such as a gym teacher who almost exclusively communicates by making fun of horror movies tropes before they occur on-screen. Horror and comedy are tough to balance. Luckily, the main ‘Busters sell their stereotypical on-camera personas with charismatic mockery. There’s Caroline, the clairvoyant whose psychic powers of predicting phone calls inspire second-guesses on the regular. Next is Fred, the would-be-leader whose only traits are “fearless” machismo, first-person camera intros, and a chiseled jawline. Then there’s Jack, the Dan Aykroyd of this “Ghoulbusters” knockoff who sells reluctance, appropriate paranoia, and cut-rate hero imperfection as an imposter to underworld combat should. Throw in a student who ends up outed as the group’s biggest online troll, “LegendaryThanos,” plus Puetra Quintela as “Caterina,” the summoned Bloody Mary, and you’ve got a cast who can keep the momentum rolling when scripted zingers fall flat.
3. It Won’t Please Everyone But The Audience It Does Please? 110% In.
The very nature of Ghost Killers vs. Bloody Mary will divide horror audiences. You could make predictable drinking game rules like “Every time a famous horror property is referenced, drink,” while performances are intentionally dimwitted and overemotive. Fabrício Bittar directs a horror comedy that works far more than it doesn’t, but what does work for a juvenile nutjob like myself will likely go unappreciated by more “serious” horror fans. It’s not Cabin In The Woods or even Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil. It is, however, slathered in grossness and unpredictably gonzo to a relentless degree…which, I assure you, will please the right palates.
Those on Team “Go For Broke” with me, let me tell you: Ghost Killers Vs. Bloody Mary is a certifiable wealth of genre riches. One minute severed heads smash through windows, the next a malicious monster with cotton swabs shoved up her nostrils is pushing through the gates to Hell in grimly unsettling slow motion. A telephone receiver vomits sanguine liquids, finger bones scrape into chalkboards, eyes are gouged out, tangled umbilical cords choke victims, a full-course feast reveals itself as a nauseating trick – and that’s only a taste of what awaits. The comedy earns laughs, the spectral haunts spike adrenaline, and both layers complement each other even when unbalanced. Call me easy to please, but Bloody Mary’s possessive tortures are worth any 12am theater slot. Crack a beer and wash it all down the right way.