Independent Horror Is Alive & Well With Peter Herro’s ‘WTF.’
The slasher sub-genre is certainly a staple within horror. Like monster movies or ghost stories, slasher films play a significant role in why fans love the genre. Slashers are too much fun to watch, and a good slasher can feel timeless. WTF, a film by Peter Herro, is on its way to becoming one of those movies.
Instead of going for the origin story of a “final girl,” our lead character Rachel (Callie Ott) is a survivor of a past attack. She uses this experience to change the dynamic of usual slasher stories. Like Erin in You’re Next or Syndey Prescott in Scream 2, Rachel avoids cliched female victimhood. That’s a refreshing character arc to see as the 1980’s, and early 90’s are infamous for overusing that trope. While sci-fi and action pushed for stronger female roles, the female leads in horror still felt dated. WTF is a pleasant shift from the usual narrative but has some work to do.
While our final girl gets different treatment, the rest of the women in this movie feel like glorified objects. WTF makes an effort to say the men in this story are perverted degenerates but doesn’t feel in on that joke. Lines like “chivalry is so fucking dead” are used for punchlines about nagging women and not about the vapid men. Even the girl-on-girl kiss scene is cringe-worthy and only there for the male gaze. Not saying the movie needs to be a feminist manifesto, but this type of humor feels so dated in a film that is otherwise fairly progressive.
“Seven friends, one survivor… spring break has never been so bloody.”
Other than some problematic writing, the only other complaint is the lack of inventive or exciting kills. As a self-proclaimed “gorehound,” WTF missed out on plenty of chances for something memorable. In any great slasher movie, you remember one or two kills feel etched into your memory. With this, I can only remember one brutal burning sequence, and that’s about it. Also, doesn’t help that the entire final act is so dark that it’s hard to see what’s going on. With these types of films, you need to be able to bring something more to elevate any flaws that come with making low-budget horror. In this case, a little extra brutality could’ve made up for any weak script moments.
Actress Callie Ott knew how to take the material given to another level. The film hinges on her performance. Ott’s character Rachel is the center of two stories, the Spring Break killings and the police investigation. She balances both well and serves up a layered performance no matter where Rachel is thrown. There is a connection between director Peter Herro and Callie Ott that needs exploration in other films. Ott would make a great muse for Herro’s unique brand of horror.
WTF is cheesy slasher fun that makes horror the best genre ever. The formula for slasher movies will never change, but WTF still finds a way to make a difference. Breathing new life into a sub-genre that’s been popular for decades is challenging. So difficult that WTF still stumbles now and then. Even with some minor hiccups, this movie comes with a recommendation for horror enthusiast.
“Seven friends go to a secluded house for the best Spring Break of their lives, but only one will be alive to post about it on Facebook the next week.”
WTF stars Callie Ott, Nick Reilly, Andrea Hunt, Benjamine Norris, and Perez Hilton. Peter Herro serves as the writer and director for this film. The release date is August 1st, 2017.