MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Varsity Blood’ Fails In Almost Every Way


Film: Varsity Blood
Starring: Lexi Giovagnoli, Wesley Scott, Debbie Rochon
Directed by: Jake Helgren

High school set horror films have always been a hot commodity in Hollywood, but in recent years very few titles have been worth more than a scoff and laugh. Varsity Blood hopes to put this trend to an end with a truly unique killer, but the latest feature from writer/director Jake Helgren ultimately falls victim to the same problems that have plagued this sub-genre for the last three decades.

Living in a small town where the biggest event on any given fall week is the local high school football game, there is not much to do with your time except party and support athletics. On the night Varsity Blood takes place, a group of cheerleaders and football players decide to celebrate the team’s latest victory with a raucous party in a remote farmhouse that just so happens to be in a dead zone that impacts everyone’s chosen cell phone carrier. No one invited the team mascot, an Indian warrior wielding a throwing axe, but before they know it someone dressed in that very costume is hunting the group of friends down one stunted stereotype after another.

You may not know the puddle-deep back stories the characters in Varsity Blood half-heartedly share, but I can guarantee you’ve heard something similar a dozen times in the past. Every genre cliche is represented, including slutty cheerleaders, arrogant jocks, douchebag jocks, and – of course – a virgin with overprotective parents whom she must disobey in order to enjoy the night’s festivities. This would all be well and fine if Helgren made any attempt whatsoever to make these tropes his own, but he seems perfectly fine with actors delivering one dimensional performances as long as they are capable of pretending to die on screen. Unfortunately for him, most are not even capable of doing that.

The one thing Varsity Blood brings to the table that does capture the imagination is its clear love of 1980s horror films. Helgren and his team have clearly done their research as far as creating something worthy of VHS distribution is concerned, but that rarely translates to high quality entertainment in the modern era. The story feels twenty minutes too long even though the total runtime is well under ninety minutes, and the dialogue feels as if it were lifted from conversations found on the cell phone of a producer’s teen daughter. Do people really say things like, “Have you ever gone bobbing for bananas?” Or better yet, “Were you two just sausaging?” Yes, that’s ‘sausage’ + ‘ing.’ No, I don’t believe it either.

Finding the perfect balance between quality and camp is extremely difficult. For every film that gets it right there are at least a dozen that do not, and even though Varsity Blood has a killer worth remembering, its overall execution is a complete disaster. The story is pointless, the characters are forgettable, and the actors responsible for trying to make it all work look as if they could not care less (with the exception of Debbie Rochon). There is never any doubt who will make it out alive or who will die, nor is it entertaining to watch the body count climb. I haven’t been able to say this in a number of years, but the best thing about this film is its box art. Check out the image above, view the trailer below, and move on. You’ve seen everything worth seeing (and it didn’t cost you a dime).


Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Agree. Movie totally sucks. Its like a college amateur project film.