The pop-culture references in Elliot Feld’s feature-length directorial debut are about as subtle as a barbed-wire covered baseball bat to the head. Killer Kate! opens with an introduction to the Lucille-esq bat named “Kate” well before we even meet the eponymous protagonist. This intro, juxtaposed against one character’s incessant sobbing, and another’s snapback cap which reads “Shop Smart” set the tone for Feld’s bloody, dark screwball comedy.

The pop-culture references … are about as subtle as a barbed-wire covered baseball bat to the head.

The setup is straightforward enough. Four women head to a remote cabin for a low-key bachelorette party. Unfortunately, they soon find themselves at the mercy of a trio of grossly incompetent killers. In fact, every character in Killer Kate! displays varying slasher-movie levels of stupidity in a way that appears to be played as much for comedic effect as satire. Imagine The Strangers in a world where everyone is about 30% dumber.

As with any comedy, performances are key, and Feld gambles on a relatively unknown cast. He introduces the world to Alexandra Feld as Kate, the estranged sister of the bride Angie, played by Danielle Burgess (The Sinner). Feld stands out, as her performance demonstrates great comedic timing and deadpan subtlety. The only character who manages to steal scenes from Feld is to lovably incompetent loser, Jimmy, played by Grant Lyon. Watch for both of these actors in the future.

Imagine The Strangers in a world where everyone is about 30% dumber.

The sisters are accompanied by a pair of bachelorette party cliches, including the dumb one, Sara–played by Amaris Davidson (Insidious: Chapter 3)–and the bitchy, sarcastic one, Mel–played by Abby Eiland. The most recognizable face might be Tiffany Shepis (Victor CrowleyTales of Halloween) as one of the killers.

While not quite fully self-aware, Feld seems to lampoon some of the more ridiculous aspects of popular home invasion slashers and cabin-in-the-woods thrillers. Plot threads and conveniences appear to dangle in a way that is somehow too overtly to be unintentional, but too subtle to be outright parody. Overall, the plot of Killer Kate! is one to be enjoyed at face value, not analyzed.

a bloody, dark screwball comedy

And as enjoyment factors go, Killer Kate! delivers enough jokes and gore to keep most audiences entertained throughout its runtime. While not every joke lands, more hit than miss. And while it may not be nearly as gory as something like Terrifier, it offers up more blood splatter and a higher body county than comedies like Arizona. Feld also makes use of more ambitious cinematography and editing than most comedies, resulting in some genuinely tense and memorable moments.

Killer Kate! will be available in theaters and VOD on October 26, 2018.