If you imagine someone set I Know What You Did Last Summer in a nightclub and blasted the whole thing with a glitter cannon, you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect from Killer Unicorn. It tells the story of a ‘Brooklyn party boy’ called Danny. A year after he was assaulted at Brooklyn’s Annual Party Enema, he is finally getting his social life back on track, but his attacker has other ideas for him and his friends.
The film opens on a queue forming outside a nightclub. A man wearing nothing but a unicorn mask and bright pink hot pants strides in. You follow him through the club to the bathroom. There, he and a drag queen engage in what might be the longest blowjob seen in a film that isn’t actual porn, followed by a swift stabbing and a brutal chase out of the club.
The opening scene establishes exactly the kind of film Killer Unicorn is. What follows is 74 minutes of drag queens in rainbow-splashed nightclubs getting ruthlessly slaughtered by the unicorn, interspersed with the occasional gratuitously lengthy sex scene.
There is certainly a lot of style to this film. For instance, the opening credits are wonderfully crafted. Following the first murder, the private messages and social media posts of the grieving main characters are flashed on the screen, which makes for a clever and unique way to introduce the main cast and the actors that play them. It’s definitely nice to see a cast made up of LGBTQ performers and that non-binary actors are credited with accurate pronouns.
Unfortunately, if you wanted to interrogate the message behind Killer Unicorn, you’d find that it doesn’t have the substance to back up the style. It is clearly trying to offer positive representation, and it’s easy to empathise with the protagonist Danny. However, it also offers a clichéd view of queer nightlife, with a casual approach to hard drugs as well as hooking up with random masked murderers in bathrooms.
The tone of the film is generally inconsistent. Sometimes it feels like it’s trying to be a comedy, but does fall into the trap of treating general bitchiness like a sense of humour. There are long stretches of time taken up solely by drag performances and sassy banter, rather than the promised horror. When the slashing does happen, the understanding of anatomy is questionable. Some people die after a single quick blow, while others manage to run around screaming after being impaled in the head.
This makes it difficult to shift to the appropriate level of seriousness when Danny talks about his assault and his suspicions that the killer unicorn is the rapist his friends thought they had killed.
Throughout, Killer Unicorn feels like it’s trying to say something, but it’s not entirely clear what. The horror genre doesn’t exactly have a great history with queer (or queer-coded) characters, often casting them as the villain or killing them off in direct retribution for their sexuality. There are lots of ways that a contemporary horror film in this sort of setting could reflect something incredibly profound about the way society treats queer people, but this film doesn’t really offer much in terms of subtext.
It feels more like it just wants to be a silly slasher with glitter and heels and club music – which is fine. It boasts a number of savage murders that tie creatively into the Brooklyn club scene setting. If you’re not looking to read too far into something and like catty humour, you’ll have a decent enough time watching Killer Unicorn.
Killer Unicorn is available for purchase on the Indican Pictures website.