Totally Killer is a new horror comedy film that brings together two generally distinct sub-genres, as there is a serial killer on the loose and also a makeshift time-traveling machine being put to use. The plot is centered around a set of characters in the town of Vernon, particularly a teenager named Jamie, who has to travel back in time to stop the serial killer in her town. Although the film does not really do anything new, and the humor also does not land very well at all times, Totally Killer makes for a fairly enjoyable watch owing to its straightforward approach.
Plot Summary: What is the film about?
Set in a small, peaceful town called North Vernon, Totally Killer begins with the narrator talking about a dark past from 35 years before. In October of 1987, a teenager named Tiffany Clark was murdered by someone inside her home’s garage on the night of her sixteenth birthday. Only two days later, another girl, Marissa Song, was also found slaughtered at her family cabin in a secluded part of the woods. Two days later, on the night of Halloween, a third girl, Heather Hernandez, had been brutally murdered at the parking lot of the amusement park in the town, Billy’s Boardwalk. Incidentally, all three girls were sixteen at the time of their murders, and they had all been stabbed sixteen times by the killer, making it evident that they were all victims of one serial killer.
Although the murderer did not kill anyone else after that, and their identity was never found out, some eyewitnesses had claimed that they always wore a very specific mask on their face. Thirty-five years later, in 2023, this mask has become a popular icon in the town of Vernon, and many teenagers don the face of the murderer on the night of Halloween. The town has also become popular among serial killer enthusiasts after they heard of the incidents on a podcast show by a true crime journalist, Chris Dubasage. Chris happens to be a resident of Vernon and also the narrator at the beginning of Totally Killer, as the man organizes a tour of the murder spots for fans every Halloween.
Our protagonist, Jamie Hughes, is also a resident of the town, where she lives with her overprotective mother, Pam, and her relatively less paranoid father, Blake. But there’s enough reason for Pam’s fears, for she was very close friends with the three girls who had been murdered back in 1987. Jamie wants to go to a concert with her friends on Halloween, though, and Blake drives her to her friend Amelia’s house. Everyone in this tight-knit community town knows each other, as Blake is revealed to have grown up with Amelia’s mother, Lauren, and also with Chris Dubasage, whose works he does not really approve of.
Amidst such a scenario, absolute tragedy strikes Blake and Jamie as a masked man resembling exactly the Sweet Sixteen Killer breaks into their house and brutally stabs Pam to death. The use of exactly sixteen blows with the knife shows that the violent killer from the past is now back.
How does Jamie travel back in time?
After her mother’s death, Jamie is understandably very grieved and saddened, but she also has a growing interest in helping her solve the case and find out the real killer. She is also questioned by the sheriff, a woman named Kara, as she suspects that Blake could have been involved. However, Jamie immediately shuts this suspicion down and reveals that Kara’s father used to be the sheriff in 1987, and the girl blames him for failing to solve the triple homicide. Despite Blake telling her not to, Jamie also meets with the podcaster Chris after she learns that Pam has been in touch with Chris for some time now. However, there was no secret affair between the two, as Jamie initially suspected, but instead, Pam wanted to solve the case of the serial killer, and it was for this that she exchanged many texts with the journalist. Chris also reveals that Pam had apparently received a note with a death threat from the Sweet Sixteen Killer thirty-five years ago, and it was only now that the murderer had acted on it.
With the serial killer plot established, Totally Killer moves on to the other sub-plot, that of science fiction, with a makeshift time-traveling machine. Jamie’s best friend, Amelia, is a science nerd and genius, just like her mother was during her time. Lauren, the mother, had apparently worked on making a time-traveling machine in the past but had not ultimately completed the project. Amelia is now working on the same project, with the help of her mother’s notes from the past, and she intends to build a fully functional time-traveling machine. It is from this project that Jamie gets the idea of traveling back to the past and catching the killer so that the three victims, as well as her own mother, can be saved. The plan does not work immediately, though, as Amelia is unable to get her machine to work.
Totally Killer does not spend any effort trying to establish how this time machine works and instead keeps it extremely basic, to the extent of being goofy, which works for the film. Amelia only mentions that the machine needs Wi-Fi to run, especially to bring one back to the present, but she does not realize that it needs an extra metal conductor to start working. This is exactly what happens when the Sweet Sixteen Killer starts to chase Jamie one night, and in an effort to stab her, he plunges the knife into the control interface of a photo booth stall. This creates extra electricity, immediately starting up the time machine, and before the murderer can get to her, Jamie gets transported back to 1987, only a couple of days before the murders were supposed to take place.
Who is the real Sweet Sixteen Killer?
After traveling to the past, Jamie immediately goes to the town’s school, where she knows her mother was a student, along with Tiffany, Marisa, and Heather. In fact, she very quickly learns that her mother, Pam, is part of a group of very close friends with the three others, and they are often very cruel and bullying towards the other students. Through these experiences, Totally Killer does fairly bring out the extreme differences in perspectives between the two times and how most things considered toxic now were part of common behavior back then. As the four girls obviously do not believe Jamie, she goes to the erstwhile sheriff, Lin, and tries to convince him. This obviously does not work either, and so Jamie seeks help from the one person she has faith in—Amelia’s mother, Lauren.
Indeed, Lauren does take the teenager’s words rather seriously, because the woman had already started thinking and working on building a time machine but had not told anyone about it. While Lauren dedicates her time to fixing the time machine and ensuring a safe return for Jamie, Jamie decides to get the murders avoided by any means necessary. Knowing that Tiffany would be killed inside her garage during her 16th birthday party, Jamie crashes the party with the help of Lauren. Here, she sees the younger version of her father, Blake, and also meets young Randy Finkle and Doug Summers.
In her present timeline in 2023, Randy is the Vernon High School athletics coach, while Doug is the principal of the school. But back in 1987, Randy was a harsh bully and Doug a nerd. She also gets introduced to young Kara, whom she initially suspects to be the murderer. At the party, Jamie suddenly realizes that the location of Tiffany’s murder can change since she was living in the past and the murder had not yet taken place. Indeed, the teenager is now killed inside her parents’ bedroom, and this also changes the history in the current timeline of 2023. The podcaster, Chris, suddenly realizes that he had been remembering the information wrong, and it was instead in the bedroom where the brutal murder had taken place. When he shares this with Amelia, the girl tells Chris about how her time machine had taken Jamie into the past, which is also clearly seen in photographs from the time, which have now automatically changed.
For the next murder, Jamie tries to prevent the group from going to the cabin in the woods and convinces Marisa to take them all to her parent’s condo instead. What Jamie does not realize is that this condo is actually the very same cabin in the woods, and the group ultimately ends up at this very place. Soon, as night falls, the group is attacked by the same murderer, wearing his iconic mask, but there is a major change in this regard as well. Instead of Marissa, who was supposed to die, it is Heather who is killed by the murderer, changing the sequence of deaths. Thinking of ways to fight back against this mysterious killer, Jamie makes a plan in which all members of the group will hide inside the haunted house attraction at the amusement park. Since they know that it would be Marissa who would be killed, the rest hide inside the place, waiting for the murderer to appear so that they can apprehend him.
But the murderer gets to know of their presence after entering the haunted house attraction, and a long fight between him and the others follows. In the end, Kara manages to kill the murderer with a scythe, and it is then that the mask is removed from the figure’s face, and his real identity is revealed. A year ago, one of the students at the school, named Trish, died in a horrific car accident after she crashed into a tree while driving under the influence of alcohol. In reality, the terribly insensitive group of bullies was responsible for this death, as they used to constantly call the girl “Fat Trish” because of her physique. To make matters worse, the three girls, Tiffany, Marisa, and Heather, had invited Trish to Tiffany’s house one night for a sleepover. The real reason behind this plan was to get Trish very drunk and make her spill the beans about her supposed affair with one of the coaches at their school. The girls kept pushing their classmate into drinking more and more, and they did not stop even when Trish started crying and was evidently disturbed by the whole bullying. It was after this that the girl left the place in an extremely drunk and disturbed state and died in a car accident that night.
As it turns out, Trish was the girlfriend of Doug Summers, and the young man was left grieving the loss of his lover. He had eventually found out about the three girls and their cruel sleepover, and it was for this reason that Doug started to put on the mask and kill each of the girls one after another. By pulling off the mask from the dead body, Jamie reveals that Doug was the real Sweet Sixteen Killer.
Who is the second Killer?
Although Doug lies dead, a second man wearing the same serial killer mask now walks into the scene and kills Heather, making sure that the three original murders do indeed take place. The teenagers now run out of the place, followed by the serial killer, who also murders the veteran journalist, Norm Dubasage, Chris’ father, on the way. As is soon revealed, it is actually Chris Dubasagne who is the second killer, and it is he who murdered Pam Hughes in 2023. Thirty-five years after the serial killings, Chris wanted to create buzz about the murders once again, as that would be immensely profitable for his podcasts, live feed videos, and also his tours. Therefore, he had killed Pam and lied about the woman having been threatened by the original killer in 1987. In reality, Pam was not present during Trish’s bullying session, as the two girls were not on talking terms, and so the real killer, Doug, had no vengeance against Pam.
After learning from Amelia that Jamie had traveled back to the past, Chris feared that the girl would find out the real truth, and so he killed Amelia to use her time machine and appeared in 1987, inside the haunted house attraction. As Jamie intends to return to her present, she makes use of the Quantum Drop ride at the park to trigger the time machine and start it up. Before this happens, though, she manages to kill Chris, and so the man cannot return. When Jamie makes it back to 2023, none of Chris’ actions exist, meaning that Amelia and Pam are both alive.
There are some minor changes in the world, though, because of the changes in the past, and Totally Killer‘s ending reveals a short summary of these changes. Since Pam and Blake became lovers much earlier in this altered timeline, they now have an older son whom they have named Jamie, and the man is even married with a kid in 2023. The Jamie we have been following for so long is now named Colette. Since Doug Summers was killed, he is no longer alive in 2023, and it is Randy (earlier the athletics coach) who is the principal of the school. Lastly, the Chris of this timeline is reported to be living in some monastery in India, since the man had been traumatized after seeing his father’s death on live TV without having any idea that it was him from a different timeline who had committed the murder out of anger against the veteran journalist.