The distinctive Yaarab Shrine Temple on Ponce de Leon Ave. in Midtown was the sight of a series of grisly murders in August at the hands of a revenge-seeking, mask-wearing man.
At least that’s what MTV concocted for a film, cheekily titled “My Super Psycho Sweet 16,” set to air at 10 p.m. Friday.
The flick is a bit of an homage to MTV’s own reality show “My Super Sweet 16,” featuring over-the-top parties for pampered teens — with a bit more blood on the menu.
Atlanta resident and director Jacob Gentry worked on the film with University of Georgia alum and long-time friend Alex Motlagh. Gentry said he isn’t a fan of reality shows per se, figuring they are “the lowest form of entertainment you have. But then I saw the show they were trying to base this on. I had this realization it’s the perfect scenerio for a horror film. It flipped me around.”
Gentry, 32, said most horror flicks use metaphors and, given the rough financial times, “I thought what better way to talk about that through film than with spoiled rich people?”
Here’s a trailer:
The modestly budgeted $1.5 million movie, which doesn’t include major stars, focuses on Skye, who at age 6 saw her dad hatchet up teens at his roller skating rink. He was sent to prison but disappeared after his prisoner van crashed and burned. The rink shut down.
Ten years later, snide, snooty Madison Penrose wants to have her “sweet 16” party at the rink, which is reopened just for her.
Skye flirts with Madison’s hot ex-boyfriend and decides to exorcise her own demons by crashing the party. That’s when the slashing, hacking and general mayhem begins.
In Gentry’s mind, “it’s a John Hughes film that gets interrupted by a John Carpenter film.” In other words, imagine a mash-up of “16 Candles” and classics such as “Halloween” and “Prom Night.”
“Super Psycho,” Gentry said, is clearly in the “slasher genre” where there are rules viewers expect will be followed. “It’s like playing the blues,” he said. “You want to give it your spin but you don’t want to interrupt the formula too much. You still have to play the blues. In this case, we don’t want to reinvent the wheel.”
Alas, the film is packed with a few horror movie cliches:
- The teens who make fun of heroine Skye get their come-uppance. And even if you’re lecherous to the underaged bad girl, your future is cloudy.
- The murderer disappeared years ago, presumably dead. But is he dead? Really?
- People at this party don’t need to go to the bathroom – unless they’re major characters ready to get whacked.
- Trapped? Go up the stairs of course! That’s always the best escape route!
- Why shoot someone when smashing them to bits is so much more fun?
- And make sure the ending implies a possible sequel.
Given the nature of horror flicks, he paid homage to the past with scenes evoking “Carrie” and Brian de Palma, especially the use of slow motion and tension building near the end when one of the bad girls “reveals” the evil murderer to the rest of the party in a rather memorable fashion. (I won’t give that away.)
Another scene follows the concept of being so close to escape but just not making it. A gal is chased by the bad guy in a car and then goes up some stairs, reaching a fence but not quite making it. “Safety is slightly out of reach,” Gentry said. “That to me is scary.” He mentions the scene in “Scream” where Drew Barrymore’s throat has been cut and she can’t tell her parents 20 feet away she’s in trouble.
The film never mentions Atlanta but shows the skyline at the very end. “There are things shown that makes it clear it’s Atlanta if you know Atlanta,” Gentry said. And Madison references flying a stylist in 3,000 miles from Los Angeles so you know it’s somewhere on the East Coast. “We wanted to make it every city,” he said, “not too region specific. We wanted it to connect with anyone.”
I also asked if the MTV audience, now used to reality TV, would go for something scripted. “If they want reality, they have it in spades,” he said. “So it’s just a chance to try their hand at something else. MTV is trying to keep things fresh.”