Reviews

L.A. Film Fest Review: Saturday Morning Massacre

Ghost hunters are ripe for parody. There has been a deluge of horror movies about a team of paranormal investigators spending the night in an allegedly haunted house. Typically they start out skeptical but we all know angry ghosts are inevitable. There are variations but ghost hunting tales are stale at this point. 

Saturday Morning Massacre, which is being called a live-action Scooby Doo (yes, there’s even a dog), establishes itself well and early on seems as if it will be a sharp and amusing horror-comedy. 

The funniest scene in the movie happens near the beginning. The team of young paranormal investigators is making their way through a rundown building, and suddenly it appears as if there could be something supernatural present. Team lead Nancy (Ashley Spillers) opens a series of doors in a narrow hallway as the group grows increasingly anxious, and eventually they stumble upon a small group of adults and children.

Turns out there was a group of child pornographers using the building. They used stories of ghosts to keep people away. The police had been conducting an investigation for months. It’s pretty hilarious when a very perturbed officer mercilessly berates the team for potentially ruining their investigation.

Making matters worse, the team is having financial troubles, which seems believable. All of the audio and video equipment has to be expensive, and the market for paying jobs has to be limited. They’re in a lowly state when a great opportunity presents itself. 

A man who appears to be a bank executive calls Nancy and offers her a paying job. The bank owns a house built in 1913 that is rumored to be haunted. They are trying to fix it up and sell it, but maintenance and construction crews keep getting scared off. He wants them to determine whether or not a supernatural presence is in the house. 

A police officer gives the team a tour of the house and fills them in its history. The troubles began in the ‘50s when a family allegedly turned into Satan worshippers. People talk of blood rituals and a gateway to hell and all sorts of crazy stuff. Paul Gordon is pitch-perfect as Officer Lance in this scene. His deadpan delivery as he shares stories of the house and its past residents is wonderful. 

Sadly, this also marks a severe turning point in Saturday Morning Massacre. The laughs come to an abrupt and permanent stop. It gets serious and essentially becomes what it has been making fun of. The team sets up their equipment. They slowly explore the creepy old house. Strange things start to happen that indicate a ghost or unexplainable presence. None of this is played for laughs, so it’s not funny, but it’s certainly not frightening either. We’ve seen it all before. 

The team grows increasingly irritating and the movie gets tedious. Characters become hysterical and there’s lots of shouting as the expected freak outs commence after the weird stuff begins. There are also long, trivial discussions of relationship status and poor life choices and changes that need to be made. None of it is remotely interesting. 

Neither is the reveal of what is actually responsible for the strange occurrences in the house. Scooby Doo is long forgotten at that point, and that’s a shame. There was so much potential, but when all is said and done the laughs are few and far between and the scares nonexistent.