Oh, high school horror, how I love thee. Not really, but hey, I’m open to anything in front of me at least once. Earlier in the year, Lucky McKee & Chris Silvertson gave horror fans an interesting entry with ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE, a movie that while not perfect, was a lot of fun and very imaginative. One of the standout horror/comedies of the year, ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE wasn’t meant to be taken very seriously and felt like a cross being something horror based and a very fantastical comedy…but wait, I forgot, we weren’t talking about that movie, oops. The other high school horror film of the year, VARSITY BLOOD, unfortunately doesn’t hit the notes that McKee/Silvertson’s film did, instead going for a more serious and direct approach, something just ends up not working.

Forgive me for going back yet again to ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE, but what made that film work for me was the fact that is was playful and fun, and had a cast that MIGHT be passable as teenagers, but with VARSITY BLOOD, every single actor involved looks like they’re old enough to graduate college, let alone high school. It’s hard to get engrossed in a film, wehn you can’t believe it for a second. Following a group of “friends” who are picked off one by one by a killer dressed in the school’s mascot costume, the film tries to get the viewer hooked right off the bat, but it’s full of dialogue that just feels off for some reason, and by the fifteen minute mark, you’re asking yourself if you did the right thing by putting this one on. It’s not a horrible film, per se’, but it just doesn’t resonate or connect with its audience, and once the film is over, you have to struggle to even remember a single thing about the film.

With slasher cliche’s like following the nice girl who is pined after by the shy guy, but goes for the bad boy who is secretly sleeping with a more popular girl, it just feels done to death, as we’ve all seen this movie many times over in different incarnations. VARSITY BLOOD tries its best to give you a good amount of suspects and red herrings, but when it’s impossible to connect to a single character in the film, you have problems even caring who the killer is, and when it finally IS revealed at the end, it’s out of nowhere and you ask yourself, “wait, THAT is the killer?”, but not before a character’s mom (played by Debbie Rochon, who seems bored throughout the film) appears literally, out of nowhere to try to save the day. The kills are decent, but nothing you haven’t seen quite a few times over, and the killer in the mascot costume throwing a tomahawk to and fro just seems quite silly at times. Topped with blatant homages to other slasher films (the amount of parallels to HALLOWEEN is in the double digits), including characters named Nancy, Tina, Heather, Wallace, Linda AND Blair, the film just doesn’t give much to stand out on its own, relying on previous films for references.

If you’re at your local Redbox and need a silly slasher to watch over some pizza and beer with your buds, then maybe VARSITY BLOOD might suffice, but in any other situation, it’s just not something to latch onto, and if you’re wanting a film to remember, you might be better off to look through your collection instead.

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