Guess Who (2024) Review: Tubi Original Film

“Guess Who” had all the makings of a delightfully twisted and original horror premise. Centered around the bizarre holiday tradition of “mummering” – where people dress in disguise and go door-to-door performing for treats – it sets the stage for an unnerving slasher flick full of masked menace. The opening acts deliver on that creepy potential, as a deranged killer starts targeting victims during the mummering festivities in a downtrodden trailer park community.

Unfortunately, the film can’t quite decide if it wants to fully commit to being a straightforward slasher or if it wants to blend in revenge thriller elements. About halfway through, the script pivots to make the central conflict a vendetta by the trailer park residents against the wealthy father of the protagonist Kaitlyn (Keeya King). Apparently he was responsible for closing a factory that led to financial ruin and tragedy for Kaitlyn’s fiancé Michael’s family years ago.

On one hand, adding those personal stakes and class warfare elements could have been an intriguing way to add depth to your typical slasher plot. However, “Guess Who” fumbles the integration of the two genres. The slasher thread never quite gels with the revenge plot in a satisfying or coherent way. It ends up feeling like two separate, under-developed movies awkwardly mashed together.

It’s a shame because there is definitely talent involved here that deserved a more focused and polished screenplay. Leads Keeya King and Corteon Moore turn in solid performances, bringing dimension to their characters even as the script falters around them. And director Amelia Moses shows a flair for sustained creepy tension in the early mummering murder sequences.

But the messy tonal shifts and failure to commit to one coherent narrative path ultimately undermine the film’s potential. By the third act, it descends into an absurd, ultra-violent series of confrontations and revelations that don’t really pay off for either the slasher or revenge angles it was straddling. The ending in particular is a letdown, going for edgy nihilism but landing in cliched stupidity instead.

“Guess Who” had an ingeniously spooky idea at its core, using the mummering tradition to create a uniquely unsettling slasher setting. It’s just a shame the script couldn’t figure out how to fully capitalize on that premise in a more focused and satisfying way. As a genre mashup, it’s a muddled mess, but it still has just enough glimmers of originality and atmospheric dread to make it a somewhat watchable misfire for hardcore horror fans.

While the central premise showing promise gets squandered, “Guess Who” does still have some redeeming qualities that make it a somewhat watchable misfire for hardcore horror fans.

One of the film’s strengths is its embracing of the unique mummering tradition to create an atmospheric sense of dread. The visuals of the masked and disguised mummers roaming the trailer park at night conjure an inherently unsettling vibe. Director Amelia Moses does well in these early sequences to wring maximum creepiness out of the concept.

There’s compelling psychological horror in the idea of being unable to trust or identify who is friend or foe behind those disturbing disguises. The opening home invasion sequence where Kaitlyn is attacked by a mummer is tautly executed. As is a later scene where the couple attends a mummering party, with the tension slowly ratcheting as they attempt to suss out potential threats among the costumed revelers.

Moses also brings an effectively grimy, lived-in quality to the depiction of the downtrodden trailer park community. The setting’s economic hardships and palpable sense of struggle and desperation add weight to the eventual revenge motivations, even if the script bungles fully capitalizing on those themes.

The performances by the core cast are also strong enough to make you wish the material served them better. King makes for an engaging final girl as Kaitlyn, bringing both vulnerability and resilience to the role. Moore does well navigating Michael’s internal working-class shame and desire to escape his roots. Veteran actress Elizabeth Saunders is particularly great as the domineering Gosse family matriarch Edith.

So while “Guess Who” represents a disappointing swing and a miss overall, it does have enough glimmers of potential and atmospheric dread to make it a somewhat watchable misfire for die-hard horror fans. The mummering tradition is ripe for mining effective creepiness and scares. One just wishes this screenplay could have figured out a more coherent and satisfying way to fully exploit that rich premise, rather than getting so muddled in its own tonal identity crisis between slasher and revenge thriller.

For horror completists and viewers with a tolerance for failed ambition, “Guess Who” may be worth a look just for those fleeting moments where you can see glimmers of what could have been a far more impactful and original horror outing. But for most, the messy execution and inability to fully capitalize on its deliciously twisted setup will likely make this one an easily forgettable footnote.

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