Killer Book Club Review

 KIller Book Club
KIller Book Club
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The pleasure of a good murder mystery lies in its tropes, unlike other genres. Cliches are not bad because they are embraced and put to thrilling use in a whodunit story that leads the audience into an enjoyable misrelation of events leading to an ultimate disclosure of identity. Killer Book Club opens on one such tale: The scene moves away from the flickering flames of a fireplace and takes in pages lying all over the carpeted surface which are soaked with gasoline, and a young girl drops more petrol onto her screaming mother before lighting them both up. If it seems like any banal, low-quality knockoff movie of a murder mystery, that’s kinda the point. What Killer Book Club wants is a familiar plan.

However, this familiarity actually spoils what should have been suspenseful about it. We think we know exactly what’s happening throughout Killer Book Club – bloody, gory scenes that can be read as superficially as impatient theory formation in our minds from where this text originates. Withheld, withheld again, and once more so audiences can know their best predictions were nowhere near right after all. Ultimately though it is also just an average slasher horror flick where envy guides misguided motives behind teenagers’ irresponsible behavior.

This college campus horror mystery by Spanish director Carlos Alonso Ojea follows the shy Ángela (an elusive Veki Velilla). Apparently, six years ago Ángela wrote a book while she was in 8th grade called The Girl from Carrión whose first scene seems to be mimicked by Killer Book Club. She has not written since then though. Weekly meetings for Angela’s book club that she attends in the library located inside the school involve walking across busy pathways alongside Nando (Iván Pellicer), her emo-headed peroxided blonde boyfriend towards the quads. These gatherings don’t take place simply at desks but rather hide out beneath some spooky stairs.

The rest of the book club consists of Vanessa (Priscilla Delgado) who is an annoying one, Rai (Carlos Alcaide) who is a hothead, Koldo (Hamza Zaidi) as the influencer, Eva (María Cerezuela), Ángela’s best friend Sara (Ane Rot), and Sebas (Álvaro Mel), a pretentious guy who may have feelings for Ángela. One thing about this film that shocks me a bit is that I expected its characters to be brought together by chance rather than already being friends with such diverse temperaments. The relationship between them all seems so good that it takes away any initial disbelief while they discuss a made-up book called Killer Clowns.

This fear of clowns is not limited to these; in Killer Book Club, screenwriter Carlos García Miranda employs this phobia in his rendition of I Know What You Did Last Summer movie. During office hours when Angela’s professor (Daniel Grao) attempts to rape her (the scariest scene in the film), she teams up with her friends against him. As well as wearing clown masks, the eight students decide to go viral on social media for clown mask pranks hoping that he will get scared. It ends in long chase scenes through longer corridors until he accidentally falls from their grip eventually leading to his death. They make a pact never to speak about it at all but guilt turns into terror when an anonymous author on some forum begins posting chapters of their murder story starting with killing and moving on one after another till they are dead one by one.

In Killer Book Club, when a terrifying person with a clown mask and armed with a sharp hammer threatens Ángela and her friends, it feels like watching a scream. The sound mixing in this film is sharp hence making the chills and thrills of nuts and bolts more pronounced amplifying every slash into roaring rips. Every scene is lit in evocative shades of pink, red, and green with uneasy hues as it waits for the splattered blood to take over the frames. These homicides do not provide any catharsis that one would expect from a horror film; they are not driven by sexual or psychological tension or even political tensions. All they do is copy old films.

However, while there is life in the killer book club due to its murder-mystery tropes it’s the need to name them within dialogue that irritates. You can expect something like that up to some extent – after all these characters read books. However, Ojea uses clichés so well only to trash them later on in his movie. But giving viewers breadcrumbs keeps their adrenaline pumping as opposed to leaving them waiting until the end.

One problem with this film is Ángela herself. She’s not really there as much as she serves to hold onto all those slasher film character traits. Misdirection fuels detective fiction but empathy drives slashers towards their final girl protagonist. You want her alive because she’s symbolic of innocence, trauma or any other human feeling you may think of. Villains in horror films have expectations too. Here we get someone who was born out of an online chat room through backspacing a lot of times just before sending anything on their part. They’re scary because they never show anger or lustful killing sprees through physicality”. The more surprises revealed about him/her, the duller this murderer becomes for fear will get you nowhere though he/she still lacks moving fear.


Carlos Alonso Ojea, the director of Killer Book Club, made this horror movie after I Know What You Did last summer as well as Scream. This film has a weak lead and no frightening villain. It is made up of clichés and archetypes that give a familiar sense of dread without graduating into the kind of bloodlust that produces memorable scenes.

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