03rd Sep2021

Frightfest 2021: ‘Pretty Boy’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Sarah French, Jed Rowen, Devanny Pinn, Jake Red, Heather Grace Hancock, Maria Olsen, Robert Rusler | Written by Joe Knetter | Directed by Marcel Walz

I’m going to be totally honest here and state that I did not see Marcel Walz’s Blind, of which this film – Pretty Boy – is a direct sequel. A direct sequel in early Friday the 13th style, where this film literally continues exactly after the events of the first movie (which are recapped somewhat in the opening titles) and continue what, I have no doubt, will be an extended series of films featuring our creepy masked-faced killer.

Er, “mask faced killer”, does that sound JUST like the Friday the 13th franchise to you? I jest but it seems, given how much this film focuses on blood, guts and gore – much mores than the first (apparently) – that Walz’s is very much following that series footsteps – upping the ante with this sequel like the introduction of the not-dead Jason in Friday the 13th Part 2. Whilst I didn’t see the unfavourably reviewed Blind, so am not au fait with the events of that movie I did see the less than stellar reviews it got – too much melodrama and too camp for most folk…

However having NOT seen the first film it leaves me wide open and completely un-biased for this latest instalment. An instalment which sees our titular character Edgar, aka “Pretty Boy” take the unconscious love of his life and star of the first film, Faye, from her Hollywood Hills to an A-List Valentine’s Day party down the street. Why he does that we’re not really told, he just does… OK, lets be real, Pretty Boy takes Faye down the street so he can massacre another bunch of pretty wannabes like Jason did in the Friday the 13th series. And that totally not a bad thing. Really.

Like that famous slasher sequel, Pretty Boy focuses on the “antics” of Edgar, showing his penchant for creative kills and is packed with the kind of gore that slasher fans have been clamouring for; and whilst there are a lot of knife-based kills there are a few standouts deaths, including a gloriously over the top eye popping scene and a “killed whilst having sex” scene that would make Jason Vorhees himself proud!

Pretty Boy takes a swerve at the hour mark, as our heroine Faye makes a run for it to the neighbours down the street of the current massacre. Neighbours who seem a little “off” from the start. It doesn’t help that Edna is played by Maria Olsen, one the unsung genre stars of this generation; and her husband is played in INCREDIBLY creepy fashion by a grey-haired Robert Rusler, who himself faced a serial killing maniac in Nightmare on Elm Street 2 back in the day. Of course it turns out Edna and her husband have a son… “Pretty Boy” Edgar!

Walz and writer Joe Knetter have clearly thought out this franchise from the get-go or, judging by this film, if they haven’t the pair are great at world-building on the fly… For Pretty Boy‘s left turn takes us into a whole new slasher territory and a new slasher family, say goodbye to the Vorhees’ and hello to Sawyers! Yes we have a twisted mum and dad who see their son as completely worthless – even moreso now he’s a killer – but are as sadistic and evil as their serial killing kin. Yes, Pretty Boy is this franchises Leatherface NOT Jason Vorhees; for his parents didn’t love him like Jason’s mum did! Oh, and it turns out Edgar used to watch Faye’s films growing up as a prisoner of his parents. No wonder he’s so enamoured with her and sought her out on his escape from his demented parentals… Talk about back stories and world-building.

Stylistically set in the neon drenched 80s with nods to franchises of the same era, Pretty Boy turns out to be much more than a slasher-film pastiche, ultimately taking a turn into the twisted dark territory of incest, matricide and rape… typical horror family life right?! Honestly, I enjoyed this one so much I might have to go back and watch Blind now. Critics be damned!

**** 4/5

Pretty Boy screened as part of this years Arrow Video Frightfest.

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